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Equal opportunity harasser defense is limited.

Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

IN A JUNE 18 RULING IN EEOC v. Fairbrook Medical Clinic, the 4th Circuit ruled that an "equal opportunity harasser" can create a hostile work environment if he or she uses gender-specific slurs.

Dr. Deborah Waechter said that while she was employed at Fairbrook Medical Center, owner Dr. John Kessel harassed her about her body, sex drive and decision to breastfeed. Waechter alleged that on several occasions she told Kessel these comments made her uncomfortable.

Fairbrook argued that Kessel was not a harasser but a crude person. The 4th Circuit found that although he made offensive remarks around both men and women, his gender-specific slurs indicated an intention to demean women. Fairbrook also argued that, because they deal with human bodies daily, medical employees have a casual response to anatomical jokes. The appeals court, however, determined that a medical work environment did not excuse otherwise harassing behavior.
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Title Annotation:4TH CIRCUIT
Author:Roberts, Kayleigh
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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