How to discipline supervisor who missed harassment warning signs?

Question: Tricky situation here: We have a great supervisor with a wonderful track record and excellent evaluations. But recently he missed some clear warning signs that a female employee felt she was having to endure a hostile work environment. Some of her male co-workers’ comments could definitely be construed as offensive. Leaving aside whether or not we are going to get sued, how should I go about disciplining the supervisor?—Michael B., North Carolina


Unfortunately, he has put your company at risk as well as himself. Supervisors can be named in Sexual Harassment law suits. If he was aware of the situation or knew it was going on, he had a responsibility to either notify HR or attempt to put a stop to it at the very least.He may be doing well in other areas of his performance, but he did not score very well when it comes to his people management responsibility. You need to show a good faith effort in dealing with his mistake. You will be asked in court what actions you took. Employers lose most cases because they do not take any action. At a minimum he should receive a documented reprimand. Addtional documented training should be given as well.

Have you provided training to your management staff so they know what to watch for and what to do when they find it? If this supervisor knew what was going on and ignored it, he should definitely be disciplined. Did he not know but should have known, same answer but lighter disciplinary action. These steps will help this particular supervisor follow-up with all of his supervisory requirements.

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