Q. An employee complained that co-workers made fun of her at an after-work bowling event. She says they made fun of her accent (she is an immigrant) and talked about sexual acts involving her. She is embarrassed now and does not want to work with the people involved. Do I need to look into this, or should I refuse because the incidents took place away from work?
A. You need to look into this. Even though this occurred off work, there is a connection to work because it involved her co-workers. Her allegations could be construed as evidence that you have a hostile work environment, based on national origin and gender.
You should treat it seriously and take steps to remedy the situation. You never know what you will find if you investigate. Maybe there were other incidents that occurred at work, involving either her or other employees. Sometimes an isolated complaint is merely the tip of the iceberg.
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