Hamed v. Wayne CountyAnnotate this Case
At issue in this case is the scope of an employer's vicarious liability for quid pro quo sexual harassment. Specifically, the Supreme Court considered whether Wayne County and its sheriff's department could be held vicariously liable for a civil rights claim under state law based on the criminal act of a deputy sheriff committed during working hours but plainly beyond the scope of his employment. In 2001, Plaintiff Tara Hamed was arrested for unpaid child support. Because she had outstanding warrants for probation violations in Wayne County, she was transferred to the Wayne County jail. When she arrived, the deputy sheriff subjected her to sexually charged comments and offers for better treatment in exchange for sexual favors. Plaintiff resisted these advances, but she was transferred into an area of the jail not subject to surveillance cameras where she was sexually assaulted. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiff's harassment claim on the basis that Defendants were not vicariously liable for the criminal acts of sheriff's department employees. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff had established a viable quid pro quo harassment claim. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that Defendants could not be held vicariously liable under the traditional principles of respondeat superior because Defendants had no prior knowledge of the deputy's sexually harassing conduct. The Court reversed the appellate court.