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The key to winning co-worker harassment cases is to show that you took swift, just and effective action as soon as you learned about the harassment. The following case proves that’s a winning strategy.

Recent case: Donna Jainlett was transferred from one CVS store to another in Philadelphia. She had a history of attendance problems, and had previously filed a race discrimination claim.

Almost immediately after her transfer, Jainlett told a supervisor that a co-worker had made unwelcome advances, asked her out, gave her a greeting card and pestered her to ride on his motorcycle. Management swung into action. First, it rescheduled the two so that their paths would no longer cross. Then, the co-worker was warned to leave Jainlett alone. He also was given a refresher course on the company’s sexual harassment policy.

Jainlett quit and sued anyway. But the court tossed out her case after she testified that the co-worker never bothered her again. The court reasoned that CVS had acted fast to stop the harassment. Therefore it wasn’t liable. (Jainlett v. CVS, No. 06-4196, ED PA, 2008)

Final note:
Don’t ignore complaints even if they come from a serial complainer and even if her earlier complaints didn’t pan out. Do what you would in any case—separate, investigate and then discipline fairly based on your findings.

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