Priscilla Parker v. Pediatric Acute Care, P.S.C.

Plaintiff Priscilla Parker was a long-time employee of Pediatric Acute Care who ultimately rose to the level of office manager position. At the company's holiday party, two female co-workers presented Parker with a “gag gift” consisting of a gift card to an adult store named Priscilla’s, which sold lingerie, adult sex toys and sexual movies. After the party, Parker complained numerous times about the gift to PAC’s co-owner. Meanwhile, Parker became increasingly unable to meet her job duties; she failed to pay important invoices such as health insurance premiums and insurance bills, made payroll errors, and failed to address problems with the office phone system. PAC terminated Parker’s employment in May, 2004. Parker alleged that she was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and to retaliatory discharge for complaining about the “gag gift.” After the trial court dismissed the case on summary judgment, Parker appealed. The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld dismissal of Parker’s claims. 28 WL 746677 (Ky. App. 2008). The Court of Appeals panel agreed that the single instance of the presentation of the gag gift was not sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute unlawful sexual harassment under KRS 344. Further, the appellate court held that Parker’s retaliatory discharge claim also failed because “such an action must be predicated on a causal connection between the statutorily-protected activity and the termination of employment.” Because Parker did not offer proof sufficient to sustain her claim of a sexually hostile work environment, the Court determined that Parker could not proceed with her claim of retaliation for having complained about the incident. Accordingly, the Court affirmed summary judgment and the case was dismissed in its entirety.