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Think you solved harassment problem? Check back to make sure it really worked

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Let’s say one of your employees complains she’s been sexually harassed. If you conclude she may be right, it’s time to come up with an effective remedy. The harassment has to stop. If it doesn’t, it’s almost certain you will be sued.

The key is following up with the complaining employee. If your fix didn’t work, take stronger action against the harasser.

Recent case: Patricia was a security guard at a chemical plant in Evans City. After she rebuffed a male co-worker’s romantic interest in her, the two clashed constantly. Patricia complained to HR that she was being sexually harassed.

The co-worker admitted his attraction. The security service moved him to the night shift, but Patricia and he still crossed paths for at least 10 minutes every day when their shifts overlapped. Patricia said the harassment continued. One time, the man allegedly tried to hit her with his car. There was a fight in which furniture and equipment were thrown.

Patricia complained again, but nothing changed. Patricia then quit and sued.

The court said her harassment claim should go to a jury. It said employers have a duty to come up with an effective solution to harassment. It’s not enough to just separate the harasser and harassed worker and hope for the best. (Hall v. Guardsmark, No. 11-115, WD PA, 2012)

Final note: Follow up on harassment complaints for several months. Get confirmation that the harassment has stopped and that no retaliation has occurred.

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