• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Explicit Sex Talk by the ‘Victim’ Can Be Used as Harassment Defense

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources

If an employee claims she was sexually harassed but the evidence shows that she gave as good as she got, you have a good defense in hand. As a new ruling shows, employees' sexual statements can be used against them when they sue for sexual harassment. (Remember, federal law says sexual harassment must be "unwelcome" to be illegal.)

That's why HR professionals investigating harassment should make careful notes about the alleged victim's own conduct. Ask co-workers directly whether the employee making the harassment charge has contributed to the allegedly sexually charged environment. But don't pry into conduct outside the workplace. As the following case shows, only workplace behavior is relevant.

Recent case: Mary Wilson was the only woman in the Des Moines public works' sewer division. After being fired for absentee problems, she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit.

At trial, the city presented evidence that Wilson regularly engaged in sexually explicit language and behavior at work, including talk about vibrators and male sex organs. She objected to the testimony, but the 8th Circuit ruled it admissible, finding it persuasive evidence that the alleged sexual harassment was welcomed and therefore not sexual harassment. The court refused to allow testimony about Wilson's activities outside of work. (Wilson v. City of Des Moines, No. 05-1444, 8th Cir., 2006)

Final tip: Collect co-worker statements as soon as possible after a complaint, before memories fade.

Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!

Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...

We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.

The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.

" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/1665/explicit-sex-talk-by-the-victim-can-be-used-as-harassment-defense "

Leave a Comment