An employer can be held liable for quid pro quo same-sex harassment that occurred before a federal right to be free of same-sex harassment in the form of a hostile environment was established, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held Nov. 23 (Kelly v. City of Oakland, 9th Cir., Nos. 98-16482 and 98-16684, 11/23/99).

“Same-sex harassment in the form of a request for sexual favors on a quid pro quo basis “was a clear violation of federal law at all relevant times,” the court said in an opinion written by Judge John T. Noonan, and a jury was therefore justified in returning a verdict against the city of Oakland, Calif., and Kent McNab, a city park ranger who supervised the plaintiff, Stephen M. Kelly. The court reversed a verdict against the city’s chief park ranger on the ground that he had not been made aware of the quid pro quo harassment.

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