Inconsistency among the federal courts on the issue of individual liability results from a lack of consensus on the correct interpretation of Title VII, which outlaws various varieties of workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment. The disagreement among the courts centers on an allegedly ambiguous definition of “employer” as used in two critical sections of Title VII. Title VII, as popularly understood, sought to hold corporate America responsible for both institutional and individual acts of workplace discrimination. If Congress had wanted to impose personal liability on individual managers, it could easily have done so, especially since it amended Title VII in 1991 precisely for the purpose of clarifying its intentions and ensuring that these were met. The better focus, as Congress anticipated, is to encourage institutional employers to implement training programs in order to mount sufficient peer pressure to modify the workplace behavior of Title VII violators, to respond to complaints promptly, and, where investigation corroborates a complaint, to take swift steps to remedy a sexual harassment situation.
Marianne DelPo Kulow,
Individual Liability under Title VII: What Did Congress Mean by “Employer”?,
75 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol75/iss2/4