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Worker doesn’t have to say ‘Harassment’ to make claim

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Don’t wait for employees to use the magic words—“sexual harassment”—to begin investigating a complaint. It’s up to you and your management team to decipher an employee’s protests to determine if they could fall into that legally dangerous harassment-complaint zone.

Case in point: BVI Precision Materials, a Pennsylvania manufacturer, agreed to pay $80,000 to a former receptionist to settle an EEOC sexual harassment suit. The receptionist alleged that a salesman made unwanted sexual advances, sent inappropriate e-mails, gave her women’s underwear and finally showed up uninvited at her home.

The receptionist complained to HR, but the company didn’t respond because the receptionist didn’t use the words “sexual harassment.”

Bottom line: A prompt, appropriate response might have spared BVI this costly settlement.

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