Employers can be liable for sexual harassment even when the alleged harassment occurs away from the workplace, thereby emphasizing the importance of management sexual harassment prevention training. In Myers v. Trendwest Resorts (3/28/07), Myers alleged her supervisor sexually harassed her, including incidents which occurred off-site and during business trips. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the employer.
The company argued it was not responsible for conduct it qualified as outside the scope of the manager’s responsibility (i.e., job assignments away from work, sponsored social drinking activities, invitations to his home). The Court of Appeal in Myers found that in order for the company to avoid strict liability for the supervisor’s actions, “the harassment must result from a completely private relationship unconnected with employment.” Otherwise, the court held “the employer is strictly liable for the supervisor’s actions regardless of whether the supervisor was acting as the employer’s agent.” The court also found the employee’s failure to complain, lack of use of the company’s anti-harassment policy and the employee’s consent to accompany her supervisor to a weekend trip were all irrelevant, but the fact the inappropriate conduct occurred as a result of work-related activity was sufficient to confer liability on the employer.