Supervisors and Managers May Be Personally Liable for Wrongful Discharge

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In a case of first impression, the Supreme Court of Virginia declared on November 1, 2012, that a supervisor can be personally liable when the supervisor participates in the wrongful discharge of an employee.

This case, Van Buren v. Grubb, presented compelling facts: A nurse was subjected to severe sexual harassment by her supervisor, who was a physician and the owner of the medical practice. For five years, the doctor would “hug her, rub her back, waist, breast, and other inappropriate areas and attempt to kiss her” and profess his love. The nurse continually rebuffed his advances, but this conduct persisted at work and in hotel rooms when they traveled together for business. It continued even after the nurse married at which time the doctor started to demand that the nurse leave her husband. One day, the physician definitively demanded that the nurse end her marriage, but the nurse refused. The next day, she was fired.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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