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Seventh Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Morningstar (Bernier v. Morningstar)

2007
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The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for our client, Morningstar, Inc. In reaching its decision, the court once again reinforced that in order for an employer to be liable for coworker harassment, the employer must have knowledge of the harassment. The court found that Bernier's anonymous instant message to the alleged harasser (a co-worker) was insufficient to put the company on notice for the purpose of imputing liability. The court further found that this anonymous instant message did not rise to the level of statutorily protected expression and, therefore, Bernier's retaliation claim was doomed as well. The court cited to Morningstar's anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure (including the "Managing to Prevent Harassment" guide distributed to employees during training sessions with the firm) as key in finding that Bernier knew what he was supposed to do to report harassment.