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Second Circuit Says Title VII Mandates Injunction to Permanently Bar Sexual Harasser From Premises

    Client Alerts
  • November 02, 2012

ployers are generally aware that sexual harassment claims can result in large monetary verdicts and attorneys fee awards. However, many companies may not realize the extent to which Title VII claims can result in injunctive relief that affects long-term business practices. Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that sexual harassment claims required the trial court to permanently ban the harasser from the company's premises.

EEOC v. KarenKim, Inc. involved a class action claim by female grocery workers based on conduct by the store manager who was also the long-term boyfriend of the store owner. The jury returned a $1.3 million verdict against the employer, concluding that the manager engaged in a repeated pattern of severe sexual harassment and retaliation involving a wide range of current and former female employees. However, the trial court denied the EEOC's request for a permanent injunction against the harasser working for or visiting the store. The court noted that the employer had terminated him shortly before trial, and that it had recently instituted a harassment training and prevention program.
The Second Circuit disagreed, ordering the District Court to issue the requested injunction. The court noted the continuing personal relationship between the owner and harasser, and said that nothing prevented her from rehiring him at some point in the future. The Second Circuit also pointed out that the owner was aware of harassment allegations long before the suit was filed, and that long-term remedial measures were appropriate given her unwillingness to act until litigation was well underway.

In most cases, employers want nothing to do with the accused harasser, and do not need an injunction to force them to part ways with him. In rare cases, however, personal or business circumstances make it difficult for the company to exclude the harasser from its operations. This case demonstrates that regardless of the existence of such problems, courts can and in most cases will act to bar harassers from involvement that could potentially expose new victims to their conduct.