Racial Harassment Client Wins Appeal in Federal Court

July 24, 2013, Lambert v. Peri Formworks Systems, Inc.

Our law firm won a major court victory for our client in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Our client filed a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit against his employer after being subjected to sexually and racially offensive comments from co-workers and supervisors.

The Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and argued that our client’s case should be dismissed because the employer’s sexual harassment policy instructed employees to report harassment to either the CEO or the human resources manager, and our client reported it to his immediate supervisor instead. The Defendant claimed that because our client did not follow their policy, his claims should be barred. The Defendant also argued that the harassment our client experienced was not severe enough to be considered racial harassment because the comments were not physically threatening and because the supervisor who made the comments said that he called everyone a “donkey” and “gorilla,” not just one group of people. The District Court agreed with the Defendant and granted their motion; however, Attorney Scott Fanning appealed the decision.

On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision in our client’s favor. The Court of Appeals said the District Court made a mistake because even though our client’s supervisor was not listed in the employee handbook, the Court said it was not unreasonable for our client to expect his supervisor to refer his complaint to someone in the company who could address the problem. The Court also said that the District Court was wrong in determining that the harassment was not severe enough because even though the harasser claimed that he called everyone a “donkey,” a jury might not believe his explanation. The successful appeal means that the District Court’s decision is reversed and our client will be able to continue his lawsuit and prepare for trial. [Read the entire decision]