An employer has a duty to investigate any claims of sexual harassment.
But a recent court decision shows the employee must give the employer a reasonable amount of time to do so.
Heather Lopez worked for Whirlpool in Iowa when she began experiencing unwanted touching from her co-worker.
Lopez said this co-worker rubbed her shoulders repeatedly, came up close behind her, and called her “baby” on one occasion.
She reported this conduct to HR. For the next two days, the co-worker continued to hover near her work station and invade her personal space. Lopez couldn’t take it anymore and resigned on the spot.
Lopez then sued for sexual harassment and retaliation. She said she was “constructively discharged” (forced to resign) because the company did nothing about her harassment report.
The 8th Circuit disagreed with Lopez, though. It said to prove constructive discharge, the working conditions would have to be “intolerable” – and the court didn’t find the reported harassment to be overly severe.
Furthermore, Lopez quit only two days after filing her complaint, which wasn’t enough time for her employer to investigate her claims and put a stop to the alleged harassment.
Cite: Lopez v. Whirlpool Corp., 3/4/21.