Williamson V Houston

Topics: Police, Appeal, Constable, Harassment, Abuse, United States / Pages: 3 (712 words) / Published: Oct 25th, 2015
1. Name of the Case: Linda W illiamson v. City of Houston, Texas, 148 F.3d 462, 1998. 2. Facts: In 1990, Linda Williamson, a police officer with the City of Houston Police Department, was assigned to the Organized Crime Squad. Officer Doug McLeod, another member of this squad, began sexually harassing her on a daily basis and this behavior lasted for approximately 18 months. The harassing behavior occurred in front of other police officers, including the officers’ supervisor, Sergeant Bozeman. McLeod’s harassing behavior included him making comments about her buttocks and breasts, touching her, pulling her hair, blowing in her ear and sticking his tongue in her ear. Williamson told McLeod to stop the offensive behavior and, when he failed to …show more content…
The IAD investigation determined that there was no basis for Williamson’s allegations. Williamson sued the City of Houston under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for hostile work environment sexual harassment and for retaliation against her for reporting the harassment. In a District Court, a jury found the city liable for both sexual harassment and for retaliation. Williamson was awarded back pay and compensatory damages, as well as court costs and attorney’s fees. On appeal to the Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, the City of Houston challenged the judgment on the grounds that it did not have notice of the harassment until April 1992 and that her notification to her supervisor should not have constituted notice to the city. The District Court’s ruling was affirmed by the Appeals Court. 3. Main Issue: Can a supervisor’s knowledge of harassing behavior be imputed to the city to show that the city knew, or should have known, of the harassing behavior and can therefore be held liable for failing to stop the behavior? 4. Court Deciding: United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. 5. Decision: Summary judgment affirming the decision of the District …show more content…
Principle of Law: A supervisor’s knowledge of harassing behavior can be imputed to an organization to show that the organization knew of the harassing behavior and can therefore be held liable for failing to stop the behavior. 7. Analysis: This case addresses whether an organization can be held liable for things that an employee (specifically, a supervisor) knows or does. In this specific case, the issue was a supervisor’s knowledge of sexual harassment of an employee. Presumably, however, the supervisor’s knowledge could be of any number of troubling issues regarding employees from negligence, to theft, to drunk driving. The Appeals Court in this case did not focus on the clearly disturbing behavior of the harasser. Instead, they focused on the defendant’s (the city’s) claim that they could not be held liable because knowledge of the harassing behavior on the part of the officer’s supervisor did not constitute knowledge on the part of the city. The court dismissed this claim. One of the issues discussed at length by the court had to do with the rank of the supervisor who had knowledge of the harassing behavior. The city claimed that the supervisor, Sgt. Bozeman, was not considered “upper management” by the department. The court cited another decision from the 7th Circuit (Young v Bayer Corp., 123 F.3d 672, 673-75, 1997) which stated that the labels attached to different levels or organizational hierarchy were not important; rather, the important consideration is to

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