Sexual Harassment Claim Fails, Costs Awarded to Employer
Ever get mad at your boss? Ever think it was a good idea to log onto Facebook during working hours and complain about said boss? Yeah, us neither.
Sara Debord let loose on Facebook about her boss adding money to her paycheck, and saying that he needed "to keep his creapy [sic] hands to himself." Many of her coworkers, and supervisor, saw the post and disruption ensued.
Sara Debord worked at Mercy Health Services of Kansas beginning in 2004, and made no complaints about her boss until her Facebook rants of July 6, 2009. The same day, Mercy's HR director interviewed her to investigate the allegations of overpay and sexual harassment. Later that week she met with Mercy's risk manager. In both meetings Mercy characterized her allegations as sexual harassment complaints, while Debord herself denied making a sexual harassment complaint, and declined to file one.
A week after the Facebook rants, Mercy discovered that her allegations of overpay were false, and terminated Debord for "disruption, inappropriate behavior, and dishonesty." Only then, five years after her employment began, did Debord allege sex discrimination when she filed a Title VII suit against Mercy. Mercy moved for summary judgment and the motion was granted, but its motion for costs was denied. The parties appealed.
The Tenth Circuit did not find any of Debord's arguments convincing. Mercy's lack of knowledge, and swift action, were key reasons why her claims were not successful. But most importantly, Debord did not back up her claims with evidence to establish material issues of fact.
Perhaps the Tenth Circuit is lacking for really juicy issues to decide, and based on its dearth of published opinions lately, that seems to be the case. We'd love to give you an amazing take-away from this case but we're having a hard time finding anything new -- the court simply reiterated its existing precedent, and applied them to the facts of this case. If you want to take a lesson away from this case, let it be this: don't complain about your boss on Facebook.
- Overstock Knows How to Handle a Hostile Work Environment Claim (FindLaw's U.S. Tenth Circuit Blog)
- How Much Is Enough? Difficulties Defining "Hostile Work Environment" In Title VII Harassment Claims (FindLaw)
- No Title VII Violation in Termination of Employee, 10th Cir. Says (FindLaw's U.S. Tenth Circuit Blog)
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