SCHOOL LAW ADVISORY
Volume 30, No. 1
Given the recent spotlight on sexual harassment n the workplace, school employers would be
well-served to take stock of how their organization andles issues of harassment and discrimination. Specifically, schools should review and, if necessary, reboot their practices regarding sexual and other unlawful) harassment training for employees and supervisors, complaint handling procedures, and how they communicate with, and treat, employees who make complaints about discrimination and arassment. Two recent decisions from the First Circuit (the federal ourt of appeals serving both Maine and New Hampshire) highlight how handling complaints of harassment can impact an employer’s liability for unlawful harassment.
The City of Providence – Up in Flames
In January of 2018, the First Circuit upheld a jury verdict and award of over $700,000 in favor of an employee in a Title VII sex-discrimination and retaliation case brought by Lori Franchina, a former lieutenant with the Providence Fire Department, in a case called Franchina v. City of Providence.
In this case, Ms. Franchina had a successful career with the city of Providence for several years. One night, however, she was assigned to work with a fellow firefighter with a reputation for treating female firefighters poorly. The male firefighter lived up to his reputation that evening by making inappropriate sexual comments to Ms. Franchina throughout their shift, including an incident during which he publicly made an obscene gesture toward Ms. Franchina while making a comment about her sexual orientation. Further, after returning to the fire station following their shift, the male firefighter burst into Ms. Franchina’s personal quarters wearing nothing but a Providence Fire Department shirt, socks and boxer shorts, while she was changing out of her uniform. When Ms. Franchina asked him to leave, he refused. Although Ms. Franchina did not report the firefighter’s behavior, the fire chief learned of.... To continue reading, visit https://schoollaw.com/school-law-advisory.
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