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Sexual Harassment: Church Could Be Liable for Youth Pastor's Actions

A sexual harassment policy is essential for any church.

Oregon
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Key Point 8-12.5. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It consists of both "quid pro quo" harassment and "hostile environment" harassment. Religious organizations that are subject to Title VII are covered by this prohibition. An employer is automatically liable for supervisory employees' acts of harassment, but a defense is available to claims of hostile environment harassment if they have adopted a written harassment policy and an alleged victim fails to pursue remedies available under the policy. In some cases, an employer may be liable for acts of sexual harassment committed by nonsupervisory employees, and even nonemployees.

A federal court in Oregon ruled that a church could be liable for a youth pastor's acts of sexual harassment. A church selected a recent high school graduate (the "plaintiff") to work as an intern ...

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  • November 1, 2008

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