CoWorker Sexual Harassment and an Employees Obligation to Act Reasonably Harvill v Westward Communications 433 F3d 428 5th Cir 2005 Hockman v Westward Communications 407 F3d 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.