Co-Worker Sexual Harassment and an Employee’s Obligation to Act Reasonably; Harvill v. Westward Communications, 433 F.3d 428 (5th Cir. 2005), Hockman v. Westward Communications, 407 F.3d 317 (5th Cir. 2004)).

While the Hockman court found potentially egregious conduct was not harassment as a matter of law, both Hockman and Harvill assist employers when complaining employees act unreasonably. Traditionally, the court’s inquiry of whether a company may avoid liability for co-worker harassment is limited to the question of whether the employer knew or should have known of the alleged harassment and failed to take prompt, remedial action. Accordingly, whether a plaintiff acted reasonably or unreasonably in bringing a complaint to management’s attention is a matter for supervisory harassment claims only, which operate under a different set of liability principles. We argued for adoption of the supervisory harassment “reasonableness” standard in co-worker harassment cases and the Courts agreed. Now, an employer may be able to avoid liability in co-worker harassment claims if the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of corrective opportunities provided by the employer.

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