The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently clarified the legal standard for claims of non-employee workplace harassment, adopting and applying non-binding liability guidelines promulgated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). In Summa v. Hosftra University, the Second Circuit held that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may be liable for acts of harassment committed by non-employees where (1) the employer has some control or other legal responsibility with respect to the conduct of such non-employees, and (2) the employer knows or should have known of the harassing conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.

The Second Circuit’s decision is the first federal appellate court opinion to adopt the EEOC’s non-employee harassment guidelines. The decision also serves as an important reminder that all employers should implement and maintain effective procedures for quickly and appropriately responding to harassment complaints.