1-23-12; Another employment law ruling from our federal courts that has to be infuriating to U.S. business

You can become liable for tortious actions by your trainers or managers if you don’t take prompt action. In Zuidema v. Raymond Christopher, Inc.  the court noted a male employee at a store in a shopping mall stated a claim, under Illinois law, against his employer for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), under a theory of respondeat superior.

The aggrieved employee alleged he had been harassed by a male corporate trainer, who had made comments to him about

·         Bending over,

·         Called him "sexy,"

·         Said he would have “his way with him” out in the back of a shed,

·         Commented about how he likes "rugged men,"

·         Brushed his hand across the employee's face, and

·         Came up from behind the employee and started to rub his shoulders.

Allegedly all these acts and statements took place without the Plaintiff/employee's consent.

The worker alleged he reported the trainer's conduct to the company's vice president of operations and she took no action. Because she had failed to take any action to correct the unwanted and offensive advances, the employee asserted he had been forced to quit.

Even though the trainer's alleged misconduct was outside scope of his employment, allegations the employer failed to take corrective action made the employee's claim arguably plausible under the doctrine of respondeat superior. While the claim had been dismissed, it would now be presented to a jury—if claimant is provided $1 in compensation, it is possible his attorney may recover tens of thousands in legal fees.

As we have advised, there are very simple steps all U.S. employers should take to forestall this sort of litigation. Please also note it is possible employees could collude to make such claims. If you want our thoughts and plan to avoid such liability, please send a reply. If you want the website of the ruling, please also send a reply.