Nadeau v. Rainbow Rugs

The plaintiff worked as an administrative assistant for the defendant, whose office was located at the home of the company’s president. The plaintiff worked in the same room as the president and he supervised the plaintiff’s work. The president asked her uncomfortable personal questions about her marriage and financially distressed situation, stating that she had options available to make money, but that he needed to speak to her in private about them. He followed this by offering to give the plaintiff money in exchange for sex. The plaintiff immediately rejected the proposal and the president told her that her position was not jeopardized but left the offer open in case the plaintiff changed her mind. The plaintiff reported the incident that day to a supervisor of the warehouse. However the president was her only supervisor so she did not report the incident to anyone else. The defendant had no policies for sexual harassment or complaint procedures. The plaintiff subsequently resigned due to the president’s comments and filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission suing the defendant for the harassment by her supervisor under 5 M.R.S.A. § 4572 for a hostile work environment. The court found that under the Maine Human Rights Act, “employers are liable for hostile environment harassment by supervisors and co-workers if an official representing the institution knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known, of the harassment’s occurrence, unless that official can show that he or she took appropriate steps to halt it.” Here, the court found that because the president was the plaintiff’s only supervisor, she had no one else to consult, and because the defendant had no harassment policy in place, she had no avenues of relief. Any higher officials than the president were located in Belgium. Further, the president was an official representing the defendant and obviously knew of the occurrence. He could have taken steps to stop the harassment by rescinding his offer but he left it open in case the plaintiff changed her mind. Thus, the defendant could be liable for the president’s harassment.



Avon Center work product