Wednesday, July 11, 2012

UC - vol. quit - sexual harassment

JJ Stanley Inc. v. UCBR - July 11, 2012 - unreported memorandum decision

"[C]onduct such as unwanted sexual comments and requests for sexual favors … go beyond what must be tolerated in the workplace." Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 654 A.2d 37, 40 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994). It is therefore well established that sexual harassment can constitute a necessitous and compelling reason to leave employment. Collier Stone Co., 876 A.2d at 484; Borough of Coaldale, 745 A.2d at 731; Comitalo, 737 A.2d at 344.

Claimant gave Employer sufficient notice of the sexual harassment. A claimant is not obligated to file a written or formal complaint of harassment or report every incident of harassment. Comitalo, 737 A.2d at 344; Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., 654 A.2d at 40; Homan v. UCBR, 527 A.2d 1109, 1111 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987). "The law does not require a claimant to complain of each and every incident of sexual harassment nor does it require a formal complaint be filed." Homan, 527 A.2d at 1111. Moreover, Claimant fully complied with Employer’s sexual harassment policy. Employer’s sexual harassment policy required only that Claimant notify her supervisor of the harassment; it did not require her to submit a written report or statement. Claimant reported the harassment to her supervisor, who was the person at Employer who was responsible for addressing sexual harassment complaints.

Claimant also did not refuse any reasonable accommodation which could have permitted her to continue her employment. Claimant’s unwillingness to continue to work in contact with her harasser was reasonable and does not show any lack of good faith effort to preserve employment. Gavlick Personnel Services, Inc. v. UCBR, 706 A.2d 406, 408 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1998)

"[T]here is a certain level of conduct that an employee will not be required to tolerate and … the Court will not place all responsibility upon an employee to resolve his or her work dilemma. Ultimately the employer bears the responsibility for eliminating harassment against employees in the workplace." Comitalo, 737 A.2d at 345.