A new sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former Fox News host against Fox News and several managers provides a useful reminder to employers -- implementing a sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure is critically important and can, in many cases, insulate the company from sexual harassment liability.
The oft-referenced Faragher-Ellerth affirmative defense provides an employer with an absolute defense to most hostile work environment claims if it can establish: (1) it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct harassment; and (2) the employee/alleged harassment victim unreasonably failed to take advantage of the preventive or corrective opportunities the employer offered.
In the Fox News case, Andrea Tantaros has filed suit seeking significant monetary damages for alleged sexual harassment. Fox News, through multiple media reports, claims Ms. Tantaros never complained about sexual harassment while employed. If Fox News had a comprehensive anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure and Ms. Tantaros did not avail herself of the complaint procedure while employed, Fox News may avoid liability on the sexual harassment claim and even obtain dismissal of the claim