Some work environments are more prone to sexual harassment than others. That shouldn’t keep you from hiring women for positions in a largely male workplace.
The answer is to educate employees about harassment and then punish anyone who violates your anti-harassment policy.
Recent case: Carol Walsh applied for several jobs at a refinery in Flint Hills where almost all women worked at secretarial jobs and none worked in the field. She was never called for an interview.
Because her husband also worked at the refinery, Walsh ended up attending a Super Bowl party with several of the managers in charge of field jobs. She approached one and boldly told him, “If I had a penis, I would have got the job.” The manager apparently nodded.
Then Walsh called several hiring managers. She claims each told her they no longer hired women because of past problems with sexual harassment. Apparently the women had complained about harassment. Walsh sued.
The employer argued it didn’t hire her because she never applied, basing that conclusion on the fact that it couldn’t locate her application.
The court didn’t buy it because Walsh testified that she had personally submitted an application once and did so again via interoffice mail.
The court said the comments about past sexual harassment as a reason for rejecting women’s applications could be used as evidence of sex discrimination. (Walsh v. CEDA, No. 09-3142, DC MN, 2011)