Legal Learning Quiz from Littler Mendelson

Preventing sexual harassment and accomodating employees with disabilities; take the quiz!

Welcome to Littler’s Legal Learning Quiz!  Fine-tune your knowledge of employment law while improving your employee relations skills at the same time.  You can test yourself or send this quiz around to your managers.  Good luck!


Preventing Sexual Harassment

Joanne is a receptionist at ABC Company.  Bill, one of the company’s suppliers, routinely comes onto company premises for business purposes and always stops to tell Joanne how pretty she is, adding comments like “If you were a gift, I would love to unwrap you.”  If Joanne complains, what should the company do?

A.        Nothing.  The company cannot be held liable for sexual harassment by a nonemployee.

B.         Tell Joanne to work it out with Bill.

C.        Tell Joanne that she should dress less provocatively.

D.        Talk to Bill and in the meantime, tell Joanne to ignore Bill’s comments.

E.         Take Joanne’s complaint seriously and investigate it.  If necessary, tell Bill that his employer will have to assign a new salesperson to your account if he cannot control his conduct.

Answer E is correct.  Employers have an obligation to take immediate and appropriate action in the face of a sexual harassment complaint, whether or not that complaint emanates from a source within the workforce.  Joanne’s supervisor should confront Bill or Bill’s supervisor.  Answer E says, quite literally, that the message should be delivered to Bill.  It would be entirely appropriate to ask the supplier to send another individual rather than Bill to the company premises unless it is quite clear that Bill’s conduct can be changed immediately.  If the employer knows or should have known of harassment directed towards an employee, the employer may be liable, regardless of the source.  Here, once Joanne complained the employer had a duty to follow up on the complaint that was just as extensive as the duty it would have had were the alleged harasser to have been a peer of Joanne employed in the workplace.


Accommodating Employees with Disabilities

You are the human resources manager for a grain processing plant.  The night quality control technician (who works alone) suffers a permanent back injury.  His doctor says he is unable to climb ladders.  Part of the night quality control technician’s job is to climb a ladder and visually inspect grain in the silo.  A reasonable accommodation would be to:

A.            Install an elevator at the silo;

B.         Transfer him to the day shift and redistribute or restructure his job duties;

C.        Hire an assistant to climb the ladder and bring samples to him;

D.        Any of the above;

E.         None of the above.

D is the best answer.   Whether an accommodation is reasonable for a particular employer (i.e., will not impose an undue hardship on the employer) is determined on a case-by-case basis.  The financial resources of the company, the number of employees and the size of operation will all be considered.  Each of these answers (A, B and C) may be acceptable as reasonable accommodations under the circumstances.

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