Individual Personal Liability For Sexual Harassment
Employees and managers who harass their co-workers can be personally liable for their wrongdoing. They may face civil claims (for assault, battery, emotional distress, etc.) and criminal counts (for assault, battery, lewd conduct, etc.).
Some states (including California) have anti-discrimination laws that also allow individuals to be sued for sexual harassment, although the federal law Title VII does not (it only penalizes “employers”).
Despite the possibility of individual liability, we don’t see many examples where harassers face consequences. However, they do occur.
For example, to settle an EEOC case, a Hilton hotel in Illinois had to ensure that the harasser (it’s executive chef) receive “personal anti-discrimination training” (see EEOC Gets Personal).
Another case from a few months ago involved a harassing supervisor who ultimately pled guilty to one criminal count of harassment – and cost his employer over $1 million (see Three For $1.26M).
Finally, one recent case involved an ex-judge who harassed court workers and pled no contest to four misdemeanor counts of assault and oppression, for which he was fined $2,150. Later, the victims sued, and in 2011 the harasser was ordered to pay a civil verdict of $3.2 million (see Personal Judicial Liability).