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School District Gets Reminded To Train and Publicize

Kandice Pullen has alleged that her supervisor sexually harassed her while she worked for the Caddo Parish School Board. She has claimed that he made lewd remarks and subjected her to inappropriate and unwelcome touching. Ms. Pullen did not complain about the harassment. However, a female co-worker did complain about him and notified the school board that Ms. Pullen was also subjected to his harassment. The school board investigated. Ms. Pullen was interviewed during the investigation. The school board concluded that the conduct was unprofessional and inappropriate but did not rise to the level of sexual harassment. He received a short suspension and was directed to get counseling.

Ms. Pullen filed a lawsuit alleging that the School Board had violated Title VII because she was subjected to harassment by the supervisor. The School Board did have a sexual harassment policy in place. A company may avoid direct liability for the conduct of a supervisor if it can show that it took reasonable care to prevent harassment and to promptly remedy any sexually harassing behavior.

In this case, Ms. Pullen provided sufficient evidence to create questions as to whether employees had received sexual harassment training; were adequately informed about the sexual harassment policy; knew where to find the policy; and knew who to contact about the harassment. Witness testimony was contradictory as to whether employees had received copies of the harassment policy and whether they had received training. It was a question of fact for the jury to decide whether the School Board had failed to meet its responsibility and was therefore strictly liable for the harassment.