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Last updateThu, 21 Nov 2019 12am







    Wednesday, November 20, 2019-3:09:35A.M.






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Superior Court denies IPI’s motion to dismiss sexual harassment lawsuit

SUPERIOR Court Associate Judge Wesley Bogdan has denied Imperial Pacific International’s motion to dismiss the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Yuqin Gui.

On Jan. 31, 2019 Gui sued Stephen Brown, a pit manager employed by IPI, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Gui accused Brown of “unwanted and outrageous sexual advances” that he made on the job during non-working hours over nearly a two-year period.

Gui said she reported Brown’s actions to IPI’s human resources department.

However, she added, IPI “ratified Brown’s actions by failing to investigate the matter and instead promoted him.”

According to her lawsuit, IPI failed to ensure that its supervisors were not sexual predators, and did not adequately screen, educate, or train its supervisors on sexual relations with subordinates.

IPI, represented by attorney Kelly Bucher, said the lawsuit should be dismissed, adding that “it is the law of most jurisdictions that an employer cannot be held liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress when the alleged tortfeasor is merely a supervisor or manager and not the employer in person nor a person who is realistically the alter ego of the corporation.”

Butcher said Gui’s lawsuit failed to allege that Brown was acting under IPI’s direction or specific authorization.

In denying IPI’s motion to dismiss, Judge Bogdan stated that “an employer who affirms or ratifies the wrongful conduct of its employee can be held liable for those wrongful acts.”

He said, “The conduct of Brown and IPI may reasonably be found as sufficiently outrageous when it exceeds all bounds tolerated by a decent society.”

The controlling issue then, the judge added, is whether the harassing behavior described in the complaint exceeds what is generally accepted in the CNMI.

Brown, who is represented by attorney Catherine J. Cachero, has denied all the allegations in Gui’s complaint.

Represented by attorney William Fitzgerald, Gui filed a similar lawsuit in the District Court for the NMI on Oct. 9, 2019, also naming Brown and IPI as defendants.