AC contractor chills and settles sexual harassment claim

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A Weatherford air conditioning contractor has agreed to pay $37,500 to settle charges that a manager created a sexually hostile work environment.

Misty Kratky, the only female em­­ployee at Hobson Air Con­­di­­tion­­ing, alleged that her manager frequently made sexual propositions, asked her to show him her breasts and touched her inappropriately. She said he even exposed himself.

As the situation grew more intolerable, she complained to the company’s owner. When nothing was done to stop the manager’s behavior, she filed a complaint with the EEOC, alleging a sexually hostile work environment.

Conciliation efforts failed and the EEOC turned up the heat by filing suit on Kratky’s behalf. The case went to trial, but the parties agreed to settle a day before the jury was scheduled to begin deliberations.

In addition to paying Kratky, the settlement calls for Hobson Air Con­­­di­­tioning to revise its sexual harassment policy and implement procedures to give employees multiple avenues for reporting harassment. The consent decree requires annual staff training on the laws against sexual harassment.

The EEOC will continue to monitor the company’s compliance for five years.

Note: This is what happens when an employer stubbornly refuses to admit wrongdoing. Hobson Air Conditioning could have settled the case much sooner—and wound up with a much shorter consent decree. Now the EEOC will be looking over its shoulder for five years.

The entire episode could have been avoided if the employer had quickly and professionally investigated Kratky’s allegations. Several of the manager’s alleged actions were dangerously close to being criminal offenses. Certainly, charges that a manager exposed himself to an employee should be taken seriously. Do you want to wait until he flashes a customer?

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