Pattern of strict enforcement helps win harassment cases

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in Discrimination and Harassment

A strictly enforced anti-harassment policy can counter an employee’s argument that she didn’t use the system because she believed it would not help.

Recent case: After temp agency worker Kimya Swann was fired for poor attendance, she claimed for the first time that her supervisor had sexually harassed her. Asked why she had not complained earlier—as required by a harassment policy she said she knew about—she said she did not believe that complaining would work.

The agency showed the court that it took harassment seriously when employees complained. In fact, in another case it had fired an employee for just one sexually harassing comment.

That was enough for the court to conclude that Swann couldn’t sue now after failing to use the process at the time of the alleged harassment. (Swann v. Source One Staffing, No. 5:09-CV-271, ED NC, 2011)

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