Thus, the standard of liability set forth in the decisions applies to all forms of unlawful harassment.(See section II, below.) Harassment remains a pervasive problem in American workplaces.
Such a result is appropriate if the employee reasonably believed that the harasser had such power.
The employee might have such a belief because, for example, the chains of command are unclear.
The number of harassment charges filed with the EEOC and state fair employment practices agencies has risen significantly in recent years.
For example, the number of sexual harassment charges has increased from 6,883 in fiscal year 1991 to 15,618 in fiscal year 1998.
The federal employment discrimination statutes do not contain or define the term “supervisor.” The determination of whether an individual has sufficient authority to qualify as a “supervisor” for purposes of vicarious liability cannot be resolved by a purely mechanical application of agency law.
Therefore, that authority must be of a sufficient magnitude so as to assist the harasser explicitly or implicitly in carrying out the harassment.
Furthermore, the anti-discrimination statutes are not a “general civility code.” Existing Commission guidance on the standards for determining whether challenged conduct rises to the level of unlawful harassment remains in effect.
This document supersedes previous Commission guidance on the issue of vicarious liability for harassment by supervisors.
As the Supreme Court recognized in As long as the individual’s recommendation is given substantial weight by the final decision maker(s), that individual meets the definition of supervisor.