One potential defense an employer has in a sexual harassment case is that the employee unreasonably failed to make use of the employer’s anti-harassment policy. A recent New Jersey Appellate Division opinion highlights the fact that this defense does not apply if the harassment led to an adverse employment action, such as the employee being fired, demoted, or suspended without pay.
Ramona McBride worked as a sales trainee for a car dealership, Foulke Management Corp., dba Atlantic Jeep Chrysler Fiat. She alleges her immediate supervisor, sales manager Jack Dellafave, made sexual advances toward her and fired her because she rejected his advances.
The harassment started with Mr. Dellafave sending Ms. McBride text messages in which he told her that he was “attracted” to her, invited her to his hotel room, and offered to pay for her cab ride to his hotel. Ms. McBride declined each of those offers.