‘We’ll talk Monday,’ boss said, but harassment issue wouldn’t wait

by on July 26, 2010 · 2 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe

If you don’t react the right way, right away, to a harassment complaint, you may not get a second chance. That’s what happened to a manager for a retail chain in South Carolina.

A female employee had complained that a male co-worker repeatedly pressed his groin against her while walking behind her. When she told him to stop, the co-worker, who was in charge of shift scheduling, assigned her to work on a Sunday — a day she was supposed to be off.

Alone with a harasser
Fearing the harasser would show up while she was alone in the store on Sunday, the woman called a manager early Sunday morning and told him what had happened.

He told her she was overreacting and should go to work. They could talk about the situation on Monday, the manager said.

The woman’s reaction? She quit her job rather than have to be around her harasser for another day.

She then sued the company for sexual harassment. A federal district court threw her case out, but an appeals court said that was a mistake; the case was strong enough to go to trial.

Time is of the essence
Before the weekend was over, irreparable damage was done to the woman’s career, and strong grounds for her lawsuit had been established.

If an employee complains of harassment:

  • Respond that you take harassment seriously and will quickly investigate,
  • Get the facts from the alleged victim, harasser and any witnesses, and
  • Turn over your findings to HR.

Cite: Whitten v. Fred’s Inc., No. 09-1265, 4th Cir., 4/1/10.

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2 Comments on This Post

  1. September 27, 2010 - 10:30 am

    Were employees casually flirting, or was it sexual harassment?

  2. September 27, 2010 - 10:30 am

    Were employees casually flirting, or was it sexual harassment?

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