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Employers Should Update Their Harassment Policies

Labor and Employment Advisory

November 29, 2017

Elizabeth A. Crosby

Pennsylvania Federal Court Supports EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan to Protect the LGBT Community

On November 16, 2017 the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania awarded $125,000 compensatory and punitive damages (reduced based on statutory caps), along with $5,500 in back pay to Dale Massaro, a gay male employee of Scott Medical Health Center, P.C.  In 2016 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brought suit on behalf of Massaro, alleging that Massaro was forced to resign his position at Scott Medical when its owner refused to protect him from ongoing sexual harassment.

Following the Court's decision, the EEOC expressed gratitude towards the Court for upholding and protecting one of its six national priorities identified under its 2012 Strategic Enforcement Plan. Specifically, Philadelphia District Director Kevin Berry stated, "This judgment should send a strong message to employers that the protections against sexual harassment include sexual orientation. Employers should update their harassment policies to include sexual orientation and take prompt and immediate action to stop any unlawful workplace harassment." [Emphasis added]

Buckley King's Labor and Employment attorneys encourage any employer that has not updated its Employee Handbook in the past year to review all policies with legal counsel.