counsel. The plaintiff attaches a sworn declaration from Reilly, the Director of the EEOC's field office. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 25. The declaration indicates that the EEOC erred by failing to send a copy of the first right to sue letter to the plaintiff's counsel. The declaration also indicates that although an EEOC official, Eric Cohan, obtained the Rhode Island address from the plaintiff or counsel during the investigation, Cohan recalls that he was never asked to send the right to sue notice to the Rhode Island address. The declaration concludes by saying that "Ms. Ryczek was not at all negligent and deserves her day in court." Id.
When a plaintiff can demonstrate that she failed to receive the right to sue letter because of "fortuitous circumstances," "events beyond [her] control" or "no fault" of her own, the limitations period may be tolled. Lewis v. Conners Steel Co., 673 F.2d 1240, 1243 (11th Cir. 1982) (quoting Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., 495 F.2d 398, 404-05 (5th Cir. 1974), rev'd on other grounds, 424 U.S. 747, 47 L. Ed. 2d 444, 96 S. Ct. 1251 (1976)). Here, the plaintiff has provided the Reilly declaration which strongly suggests that the failure to receive the letter was the EEOC's fault, not the plaintiff's. The Court finds that this declaration is adequate to justify equitable tolling in this case. Therefore, the Court will not dismiss this case on timeliness grounds.
2. Remedial Action of Guest Services
Defendant Guest Services next argues that its prompt remedial action relieved it of any liability for the alleged hostile environment sexual harassment. In order for a hostile work environment to exist for the purposes of a Tide VII sexual harassment case, the challenged conduct must "have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment." Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 65, 91 L. Ed. 2d 49, 106 S. Ct. 2399 (1986). Even when such an environment exists, an employer is not necessarily liable. The Vinson court rejected the theory of strict liability for employers and said that liability should be determined based on agency principles. Id. at 72.
A company's liability for a supervisors actions depends upon (1) whether the supervisor's harassing actions were foreseeable or fell within his scope of employment and (2) even if they were, whether the company responded adequately and effectively to negate liability.
Kauffman v. Allied Signal, Inc. Autolite Division, 970 F.2d 178, 184 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 121 L. Ed. 2d 701, 113 S. Ct. 831 (1992). Applying this standard, the Sixth Circuit has found that summary judgment is appropriate when a company's response to a hostile environment claim is "prompt and adequate." Id.
Defendant Guest Services argues that its response was prompt and adequate because it commenced an investigation on the same day that it first became aware of the alleged sexual harassment by O'Brien. It appears undisputed that defendants Hanson and Burke conducted an investigation in which they interviewed the plaintiff and nine other individuals about the alleged harassment. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 18. However, before the investigation was completed, the plaintiff left Guest Services. Guest Service's Mot. for Summ. J. Attach. D. Thus, the defendant argues that the plaintiff did not give Guest Services a chance to take any further remedial action.
The plaintiff argues that there are genuine issues of fact concerning the adequacy of the actions taken by Guest Services. She vociferously argues that Guest Services acted improperly because it ordered her to work with O'Brien even after the sexual harassment complaint was filed. However, the plaintiff has pointed to nothing in the record to support this allegation. Absent some evidence that Guest Services actually attempted to force the plaintiff to work with O'Brien after the complaint was filed, this bare allegation is not adequate to raise a genuine issue of material fact.
The plaintiff also asserts that Guest Services should have known about O'Brien's harassing activities before the plaintiff filed the harassment complaint. Again, she cites to nothing in the record to suggest that Guest Services was or should have been aware that the plaintiff or other employees had ever been victims a hostile environment created by O'Brien.
At best, the record reflects that Guest Services should have been aware that O'Brien used foul language. This is not a sufficient basis for Title VII liability. Further, regardless of whether Guest Services knew about O'Brien's actions or could have reasonably foreseen O'Brien's harassment, the company's response to the alleged harassment was sufficiently prompt and adequate to negate any liability.
The plaintiff attempts to challenge the sufficiency of Guest Services' response by asserting that Hanson and Burke did not conduct a fair investigation. Specifically, she claims that Hanson and Burke made her uncomfortable because they were accusatory, asked intrusive personal questions, and did not believe her. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 34-35. However even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, this does not demonstrate that Guest Services failed to take prompt and appropriate remedial action. The plaintiff has presented no evidence to suggest that Guest Services acted unreasonably by delaying remedial action or by taking action that was not reasonably likely to prevent the alleged harassment from recurring. Guess v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 913 F.2d 463, 465 (7th Cir. 1990). Even if the investigation was not handled perfectly, the plaintiff has presented no evidence to suggest that Guest Services did anything that would have allowed any harassment to continue. See Saxton v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 10 F.3d 526, 535 (7th Cir. 1993) ("Although AT & T's remedial efforts did not meet Saxton's expectations, they were both timely and reasonably likely to prevent the conduct underlying her complaint from recurring"). Here, it is undisputed that Guest Services immediately began an investigation after the plaintiff complained about O'Brien. Although the plaintiff was not satisfied with the manner in which the investigation was conducted, she has pointed to no evidence of a "significant shortcoming" on the part of Guest Services that would suggest that the timing or quality of the investigation provided O'Brien with further opportunities to harass the plaintiff. Id. at 535. By leaving Guest Services within days of filing her complaint when there was no imminent threat of continued harassment by O'Brien, the plaintiff did not allow the investigation to run its course and prevented Guest Services from exploring all of its possible remedial options.
The plaintiff finally argues that the result of Guest Services' investigation was inadequate. She argues that counselling O'Brien was an inadequate and unsatisfactory response to the plaintiff's complaint. Instead, she asserts that O'Brien should have been subject to a reprimand or other more severe sanctions. However, "an employer, in order to avoid liability for the discriminatory conduct of an employee, does not have to necessarily discipline or terminate the offending employee as long as the employer takes corrective action reasonably likely to prevent the offending conduct from reoccurring." Talanda v. KFC Nat'l Management Co., 863 F. Supp. 664, 668 (N.D. Ill. 1994). Where, as here, Guest Services counselled O'Brien about her behavior and the plaintiff's voluntary departure guaranteed that the offending conduct could not occur again, the corrective measures were not so inadequate as to violate Title VII.
After carefully reviewing the record, the Court finds that the plaintiff's Title VII hostile environment claim cannot survive summary judgment. The plaintiff has failed to raise any genuine issue of material fact that would suggest that Guest Services failed to respond to the plaintiff's complaint in a prompt, adequate, and effective fashion.
3. Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Defendant Guest Services further argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on the issue of quid pro quo harassment. In order to prevail under this theory, a plaintiff must prove:
(1) that the employee was a member of a protected class; (2) that the employee was subjected to unwelcomed sexual harassment in the form of sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; (3) that the harassment complained of was based on sex; (4) that the employee's submission to the unwelcomed advances was an express or implied condition for receiving job benefits or that the employee's refusal to submit to the supervisor's sexual demands resulted in a tangible job detriment; and (5) the existence of respondeat superior liability.