Q. A male employee recently complained to HR that a female co-worker was sexually harassing him. Do I have to investigate this claim the same as I would a claim by a woman against a male co-worker?
A. Yes. While the typical sexual harassment case involves a man harassing a woman, harassment isn’t limited to just male-on-female. The umbrella of sexual harassment also includes man-on-man, woman-on-woman, and, as in your case, woman-on-man.
Courts are loath to give a pass to illegal behavior based on any kind of stereotype—such as the notion that a man would welcome sexual advances from a woman.
So you should investigate this complaint just as you would if a woman had complained.
Also, you should also review your harassment policy to make sure it covers all kinds of unlawful harassment, including “reverse” sexual harassment, same-sex harassment and harassment based on other protected characteristics such as race, national origin, religion, age, disability, military status, genetic information, and (where applicable) sexual orientation.
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