Hunt v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 18-3403 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Hunt worked the overnight shift at a Wal-Mart store. Watson was her supervisor. After Watson made several unprofessional remarks toward Hunt over a four-month period, Watson wrote a disciplinary report on Hunt, who then filed a complaint with human resources. Watson had previously been twice accused of sexual harassment and received written “coaching.” A manager concluded Hunt’s claims could not be substantiated without corroborating witnesses but required Watson to retake the ethics training course. Hunt reported no incidents of harassment following the discipline. Wal-Mart investigated the claims but was unable to substantiate them. Hunt filed suit, alleging Watson sexually harassed her by creating a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At summary judgment, the district court held that Wal-Mart established the Faragher-Ellerth affirmative defense to liability because it reasonably prevented and corrected sexual harassment, and Hunt unreasonably delayed in reporting the harassment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The alleged conduct, while unacceptable, did not amount to constructive discharge. Wal-Mart acted as a reasonable employer. It promulgated a comprehensive sexual harassment policy, trained its employees, maintained an effective reporting system, expeditiously investigated Hunt’s complaint, communicated its zero-tolerance policy, and retrained Watson even though the investigation failed to substantiate the allegations against him.