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The sexual harassment claim of a First Union National Bank employee who was subjected to “a barrage of threats and gender-based insults” by her supervisor may proceed to trial even though the supervisor made no sexual advances, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 19, partially reversing the district court ( Smith v. First Union National Bank, 4th Cir., No. 98-2200, 1/19/00).

The bank’s sexual harassment policy was insufficient to insulate it from vicarious liability for the supervisor’s conduct under prevailing U.S. Supreme Court precedent because that policy narrowly defined sexual harassment as sexual advances or other sexually provocative behavior, Judge Francis D. Murnaghan wrote for the court.

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