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Identifying the Legal Issue in the Dispute

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Identifying the Legal Issue in the Dispute

Identifying the legal issue in the dispute

I am going to discuss the legal dispute which involves a former Burlington Industries employee. The dispute asks whether a company can be sued for sexual harassment even if a worker who rejects a supervisor’s sexual demands suffers no job-related consequences. Burlington says it is wrongly ordered to face a harassment lawsuit charging a male supervisor with implying that a female subordinate’s career would suffer unless she had sex with him. The textile maker argues the company shouldn’t face liability unless the employee either yielded to the demands for sex or suffered job-related consequences for refusing. A former employee Kimberly Ellerth, who says she was repeatedly harassed by divisional Vice President Theodore Slowik, says the mere threat of adverse job consequences is illegal. Courts have set a high bar for hostile environment claims, requiring workers to show the harassment was so severe it altered the fundamental conditions of the job. Many courts also have been quicker to hold employers responsible for quid pro quo harassment by their employees than for hostile environment harassment, particularly if top company officials don't know about the bad environment. Ernest Rossiello, whose client Ellerth says a Burlington vice president threatened to derail her career at the company unless she had sex with him, said he favored abolishing the distinction. Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out the possible consequences of that position, noting that the high court is considering a separate case that will decide the extent to which employers are liable in hostile environment cases. If the court says in that case that companies are liable only in rare circumstances, Kennedy said, Rossiello probably will want to switch his position and seek tougher rules for quid pro quo cases. Quid pro quo harassment. Loosely translated, "quid pro quo" means "something for something." This type of harassment occurs when an employee is required to choose between submitting to sexual advances or losing a tangible job benefit. An essential aspect

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