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Title VII – Employer Liability

December 26, 2013

An employer’s prompt and effective response to a complaint of racial harassment meant that it was not liable under Title VII. In Reynaga v Roseburg Forest Products, a father and son, who were both employed at the company, complained about racial harassment by a co-worker.  The company immediately retained a third party to investigate the complaint, and following the investigation, scheduled the complaining employees and the co-worker on different shifts to minimize interactions between them.  The co-worker was also instructed to refrain from any contact with the father and son.  The court found that these actions were sufficient to foreclose liability for the employer on the ensuing claims for racial harassment.  This case illustrates why it is important for employers to address complaints of harassment in a prompt manner and in a way that effectively prevents further harassment.