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No matter how implausible, you must investigate every sexual harassment complaint

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Here’s some solid advice you should heed: Don’t ignore any employee’s sexual harassment claim—even if it seems unbelievable or too incredible to be true.

Instead, process the complaint as you would any other, investigate and then try to resolve the matter.

Recent case: Earl Foster worked as a customer service representative and sued after he was passed over for a promotion.

He claimed he lost out on the new job because he had refused to engage in a sexual relationship with a female supervisor. He said she had promised to help him get the promotion if he did what she asked.

This wasn’t the first time Foster claimed female managers had approached him. He claimed that after a social outing, a mentor lured him to a hotel and appeared in the room in only her underwear, soliciting a sexual relationship. He said he escaped only by pushing her away. Foster said he reported the incident to other managers in accordance with the company sexual harassment policy, but got no results.

A third woman in a supervisory position also allegedly harassed him with sexual banter and rubbing up against him. He complained to managers about this, too, to no avail.

In Foster’s lawsuit, he alleged he had been forced to work in a sexually hostile environment and had lost a promotion because he wouldn’t have sex with a supervisor.

The court said he should get a jury trial. (Foster v. Ohio Bell, No. 92828, Court of Appeals of Ohio, 2009)

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