Sexual Harrasment

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Civil rights law provides for employee protections against discrimination in many situations. The legal criteria must be strictly adhered to in order to qualify for the protections afforded under the law.

What happens to civil rights if a part of the workforce is unprotected by civil rights laws? Will the public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine expand to fill gaps in public policy to the point where exclusions will be rendered meaningless?

Civil Rights laws do not take into consideration all aspect of the workforce. As a result, there is a certain class of people who were not considered when this law was first enacted. In most cases it will be up to the courts to decide if an employee rights were violated. I do not believe that the public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine will expand to fill all the gaps in public policy. There are states where public policy is treated as a cumulative remedy also taking into consideration the remedy provided by the statute. Other states limit the reach of public policy exception to statues that contains no remedy for an employee injured by the employer’s violation. Until all states have the same clear distinction on how public policy exceptions should be handled I think the possibility is slim at this point.

Some states treat public policy exception claims as providing a cumulative remedy in addition to the remedy provided by the statute.  Those states allow the employee to obtain the remedy provided by the statute, plus the lost wages, benefits or other remedies available under a public policy exception claim.

Other states limit the reach of public policy exception claims to statutes that contain no remedy for an employee injured by the employer's violation of the statute.  Under this test, the availability of some remedy, even though incomplete will bar a more expansive claim for a public policy exception.  For example, even though the Family and Medical Leave Act has no...
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