Proving Employer Took Proper Steps Necessary to Eliminate Sexual Harassment
In Comitalo v. Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 737 A.2d 342, 345 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1999), the Court granted benefits to the claimant, finding that she had a necessitous and compelling reason to quit due to harassment by coworkers.
There, the claimant experienced repeated sexual harassment from her manager, which involved lewd and suggestive comments to her, touching and grabbing her in an offensive manner and, on one occasion, pinning her against a wall.
The claimant's husband complained and the employer took no action.
Upon further complaints, the claimant was told to contact human resources, which she did.
An investigation ensued where it was conclusively found that the sexual harassment had in fact occurred. the manager was suspended and ordered to transfer to another store.
During the manager's suspension, he returned to the employment in a drunken state and accused the claimant of lying.
She did not report this incident.
When a new manager was assigned to her store, he repeatedly yelled at her during his first two days at work, apparently because he was annoyed that he had to be transferred to this store.
Other employees criticized the claimant as well for filing the complaint.
When the claimant told the employer about the behavior and offered to resign her position, the employer told her to stick with it, but did not offer to protect the claimant from further harassment.
The Board reversed the referee and held that the claimant was not entitled to benefits because the employer took steps to resolve the sexual harassment by transferring the first manager and because she did not give the employer time to remedy her complaints about the second manager and other employees.
However, the Court reversed the Board because the evidence did not support the Board's finding that the employer took proper steps necessary to enforce its policy to eliminate the harassment. Id. at 346.
Specifically, the employer, after being advised of the complaints, which were supported by the record, did not take immediate action to protect the claimant from further harassment. Id. at 345.