You may be pretty confident your front-line supervisors know what sexual harassment is, and what to do about it. After all, you’ve trained them – perhaps repeatedly – and firmly instructed them to take employee complaints about it seriously.
But what if your supervisors – and you – didn’t actually know about EVERY kind of conduct that a court might consider sexual harassment? That would be scary.
Well, be afraid. Be very afraid. There are several kinds of potentially harassing behavior that supervisors often don’t know to look for. Here’s one example:
A supervisor is in charge of a team of inside sales reps. Eight of them are young men and two are women. The supervisor is aware that the “boys” often use demeaning terms for women and he isn’t thrilled by the coarse language. But, the supervisor figures, the guys don’t actually aim this talk at their female colleagues, so he tolerates it.
Imagine his surprise when the two women approach him one day and say the male reps are sexually harassing them. And one of their main complaints is those nasty words the guys have been using about women.
Fact is, depending on the frequency of the profanity, and whether there was other objectionable behavior, a court might find that the female reps had indeed been sexually harassed, even though they were never personally called abusive names.
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