Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders Case Brief Summary | Law Case Explained

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Pennsylvania State Police v. Suders | 542 U.S. 129 (2004)

If a supervisor’s sexual harassment of an employee is so severe that the employee is left no option but to resign, the employee might pursue a constructive-discharge claim against his or her employer. In Pennsylvania State Police versus Suders, we explore the circumstances in which the employer will be held vicariously liable for the supervisor’s conduct under Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act of nineteen sixty-four.

While Nancy Suders worked for the Pennsylvania State Police, her three male supervisors engaged in continuous sexual harassment. Suders eventually contacted the department’s equal-employment opportunity officer. Two days later, Suder’s supervisors arrested her for a supposed theft of police property, prompting her to immediately tender her resignation.

Suders then filed suit against the department for sexual harassment and constructive discharge violating Title Seven. The department moved for summary judgment, arguing that it wasn’t vicariously liable for the supervisors’ conduct.

The district court granted the department’s motion. On appeal, the Third Circuit held that a constructive discharge, if proved, amounted to a tangible employment action rendering the department strictly liable for the supervisor’s conduct, and therefore reversed and remanded for a trial on the merits. The United States Supreme Court granted cert.

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