If a human resources director conducts an investigation into sexual harassment, can the harasser fire her? Yup. Isn’t it generally illegal to retaliate against people who complain about sexual harassment? Yup. So, what gives? As is often the case in the law, a number of small logical conclusions combined to produce one giant illogical result.
First, the facts of yesterday’s Second Circuit decision, Townsend v. Bejamin Enterprises Inc. A woman worked for a company in which the President and Vice President were married. Mr. Vice President was a sexual harasser (as determined by the jury). Martha Townsend was his victim. She complained to her HR Director. HR Director initiated an investigation. Mrs. President was not happy with this — not surprising since her husband was the one being investigated for propositioning, touching, and sexually assaulting one of their employees. Mrs. President fired the HR Director to stop the investigation. Continue reading