You can’t prevent all sexual harassment, but you can do plenty to avoid liability when it does happen, at least when the harasser is a co-worker.
Start with a clear anti-harassment policy, and make sure everyone understands it. Include specific, easy-to-follow directions for reporting alleged harassment.
Then make sure someone follows up immediately and punishes any co-worker who harasses another in a way that makes future harassment unlikely. Sometimes, that may require termination. In other instances, a warning or short suspension may get the message across.
Recent case: AnnMarie worked for an Italian family restaurant. She claimed that another employee who was slightly higher in the company hierarchy attacked her while the two were working in a freezer. They had been directed to work there by another employee who ranked higher than both of them.
The restaurant had a policy that told employees they should immediately report sexual harassment to either their supervisor, HR or the restaurant’s owner.
AnnMarie reported the freezer incident and another alleged instance of harassment to HR, which launched an immediate investigation. The employee involved in the freezer incident was fired. The other employee got off with a stern warning and apparently never bothered AnnMarie again.
She sued anyway, alleging strict liability over the freezer incident. She claimed that the co-worker was really her supervisor and therefore his harassment could not be defended even though he was fired. The restaurant asked the court to consider him a co-worker rather than a supervisor, since he didn’t have the power to hire or fire and generally didn’t supervise anyone.
The court agreed he should be classified as a mere co-worker.
The court then considered the restaurant’s anti-harassment policy, reporting mechanism, investigation and actions. It concluded that AnnMarie had no case. Because the restaurant fired the harasser soon after investigating the incident, it had effectively prevented any further harassment. Plus, by disciplining the other employee, it also apparently persuaded him to leave AnnMarie alone, since she acknowledged that there had been no further harassment. The court tossed out her case. (Scoppettone v. Mama Lonbardi’s Pizzico, No. 11-4977, 2nd Cir., 2013)
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/35441/combat-co-worker-harassment-with-effective-policy-prompt-action "
- The danger of hiring 'Best of the worst' from résumé pile
- When worker complains, find out if she's a 'Serial sue-er'
- Try 2 bonus tactics suited for tough times
- Court: To allege promotion bias, you must have actually applied for the job
- Good news: Liberal definition of retaliation applies only in certain retaliation cases