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Deciding who is a supervisor is an important and complex decision for an employer. Employers must ensure their designation of a particular employee as a supervisor is valid under applicable law and can be upheld in litigation. For example, an employer’s liability can raise the question of whether the harasser was the employee’s supervisor or co-worker. If the harasser was the employee’s supervisor, the employer is strictly liable for any harassment that culminates in a tangible employment action (e.g., firing, demotion, etc.). If the harasser was the employee’s co-worker, the employer is liable only if it knew or should have known about the harassment. For this reason, the supervisory status of an accused harasser is a hotly debated issue. 

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