Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (4)8 May 96


   A hospital is justified in firing a male employee for repeated incidents of sexual harassment directed at a female co-worker.

   The allegations were substantiated by witnesses. The male employee had been warned that any further incident of harassment would result in his immediate termination, and a written memo had been read to him, given to him and placed in his personnel file to this effect.  COURT OF CIVIL APPEALS OF ALABAMA, 1995.


   The Court of Civil Appeals of Alabama ruled that a male hospital environmental services employee could be terminated from his employment for proven repeated incidents of sexual harassment directed at a female co-worker. The court upheld a decision of the state Department of Industrial Relations to this effect, and had its own ruling ratified by the Alabama Supreme Court.

   There were specific allegations set forth in the court record that the employee in question, despite being warned, offered a female co-worker money for sex, asked for dates, made hand gestures toward his crotch and engaged in offensive conversations which centered around sexual topics. These incidents were substantiated by a sworn statement from the female co-worker against whom the male employee had directed this conduct, and by a sworn statement from a supervisor recounting that the female victim had promptly reported the incidents to her and that the victim had been visibly upset by them.

   The hospital’s human resources manager testified the procedure followed with this employee was the same procedure followed in every similar situation. After an incident is investigated and substantiated, the employee is given notice that any further sexual harassment will result in his immediate termination. This notice is given verbally and in writing, and is fully documented in the employee’s file. Then, after another proven incident of unacceptable conduct, the employee is fired for just cause, a procedure ruled acceptable by the court. Kelly vs. Pate, 668 So. 2d 32 (Ala. Civ. App., 1995).