Employer's Duty to Investigate Reported Sexual Harassment

An employer is no mere volunteer when faced with a complaint of sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee or potential employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. 42 U. S.C. 2000e-2(a)(1). It has been held that sexual harassment so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create a hostile work environment violates Title VII. Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 91 L. Ed. 2d 49, 106 S. Ct. 2399 (1986); see also TEX. LAB. CODE 21.051; Ewald v. Wornick Family Foods Corp., 878 S.W.2d 653, 659 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1994, writ denied) (recognizing the elements of a hostile work environment-sexual harassment claim under the Texas statute). Upon receiving a complaint of sexual harassment, an employer has an affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior. See Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 805-06, 141 L. Ed. 2d 662, 118 S. Ct. 2275 (1998). An employer who fails to investigate and remedy reported sexually harassing behavior risks being held vicariously liable for the conduct of the harassing employee. Id.