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Sexual Harassment and Common Law Tort Claims

The Rhode Island Superior Court has dismissed some but not all claims a plaintiff has filed for sexual harassment.  Plaintiff alleged that she was an "on-air radio personality" for a local radio station's morning show.  One of her "characters" was "Anaconda," a "provocative woman" who used "racy language in a flitatious manner....to give the impression [she was] easily seduced."  Plaintiff alleges that another employee of the station began sexually harassing her, that that employee became the station's general manager and eventually fired her and another employee with whom she had previously had a romantic relationship. 

Plaintiff filed a 22-count complaint against the owner of the station and several employees based on violations of the R.I. Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act (RICRA), and various common law tort claims including intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation.  Some defendants moved to dismiss arguing that plaintiff failed to exhaust her administrative remedies with the R.I. Commission for Human Rights, or that certain claims failed to state a claim against them, or that the tort claims were barred by Rhode Island's Workers Compensation Act (WCA).

The Superior Court agreed that plaintiff had failed to allege exhaustion of her administrative remedies and that her claims under FEPA should be dismissed.  The Court said that while plaintiff had adequately alleged claims for quid pro quo sexual harassment, she had brought some of the claims against some supervisors who were not alleged to have engaged in any type of sexual harassment of plaintiff.  The Court said those claims should be dismissed.  The Court said the WCA barred plaintiff's common law tort claims except for defamation and civil conspiracy to defame.  The other tort claims were dismissed.  Mateo v. Davidson Media Group Rhode Island Stations, LLC, P.C. 2010-2433, 2013 WL 1880370 (R.I. Super. April 30, 2013). 

http://www.sfandllaw.com/Practice-Areas/Discrimination-Harassment.shtml

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