Several months ago we reviewed “Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.”  Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, and should never be taken lightly. Incidents often create subsequent problems that may affect your employee’s career, well-being or even family. And, as one California hospital just recently discovered, sexual harassment can also jeopardize your organization’s reputation, and can be very costly if not appropriately managed and documented.

As an employer you are responsible for preventing, protecting and defending your employees if you suspect sexual harassment is happening. So, what happened just recently in California?!? AOL News just recently posted an article about a California physician’s assistant awarded $168 million as compensation for the sexual harassment she faced as an employee at a California hospital.

The victim told newspapers that within just two years of being employed at the hospital, she lost count on the number of complaints she filed with HR, but said there were at least 18. And, as a strange twist in the situation, her position ended in 2008 when the company dismissed her on grounds of alleged misconduct.

Our team of HR Experts recognize that when it comes to Human Resource Management dispute resolution, there are always two sides to every story and then there is the truth.  In this case, the end results suggest that jurors saw a working environment full of hostility and sexual harassment. How could this have been prevented?

Let’s review some critical tips when managing or suspecting sexual harassment in the work place:

  • If you suspect sexual harassment in the workplace, you should document it, regardless of whether the presumed victim reports it themselves.  DO NOT ignore the situation.
  • Document the situation clearly, including dates, times and descriptions, and then schedule separate and private meetings with both the victim and the person who is acting unacceptably.
  • Your organization’s response must be reasonably calculated to end the harassment and prevent it from happening again.
  • Your employee has the right to contact an attorney and pursue potential legal action to further remedy the situation, and as an employer you also have the right to terminate someone based on their inappropriate behavior.
  • Make sure you have proper documentation of all incidences, and call a reliable source for a second opinion before taking any action.

With HR Shield, you get instant access to all the information, forms and expert advice you need to keep your employees safe. We’ll help you identify exactly which course of action needs to be taken, before it is too late. Contact us today for a consultation.

Sexual harassment includes a vast range of behavior from mild annoyances to actual sexual abuse or violence. As an employer, sexual harassment in the workplace is not as obvious as you may think. You may not even realize it’s happening, especially if the victim does not bring it to your attention or report it.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, and should never be taken lightly. Harassment often creates subsequent problems, that may affect your employee’s career, well-being or even family, and as an employer you are responsible for preventing, protecting and defending your employees if you suspect it is happening.

Pay close attention to the way employees, management or even customers and clients interact with one another. Here are some signs that sexual harassment is occurring in your workplace: 

  • Co-workers addressing each other in a flirty or suggestive manner
  • Sexual innuendoes and other suggestive comments or teasing of sexual nature
  • Excessive or inappropriate touching amongst co-workers: brushing, patting, hugging, pinching, shoulder rubs, etc.
  • Supervisors or managers frequently asking certain employees to stay late or work alone on projects
  • Favoring of employees: supervisors, managers or co-workers repeatedly asking a certain employee to work with them
  • Shut doors: Shut doors are rarely appropriate for the workplace. If a conversation absolutely needs to be kept quiet or private and that requires the door to be shut, some type of monitoring or access to the room must remain open.
  • Private meetings: Supervisors, managers or employees consistently trying to get an employee alone without the company. Examples: lunches, dinners, meetings out of the workplace

Any time that you suspect sexual harassment in the workplace, you should document it, regardless of whether the person you presume victim reports it themselves. Document the situation clearly, including dates, times and descriptions, and then schedule separate and private meetings with both the victim and the person who is acting unacceptably. If the individual doing the harassing is not an employee, the employer must address the problem directly with that individual’s organization.

The employer’s response must be reasonably calculated to end the harassment and prevent it from happening again. Your employee has the right to contact an attorney and pursue potential legal action to further remedy the situation, and as an employer you also have the right to terminate someone based on their inappropriate behavior. Make sure you have proper documentation of all incidences, and call a reliable source for a second opinion before taking any action.

For HR management best practices, or specific questions about workplace harassment, contact HR Shield. With HR Shield, you get instant access to all the information, forms and expert advice you need to keep your employees safe. We’ll help you identify exactly which course of action needs to be taken.