Facts about Sexual Harassment
She Walked Into My Office and Claimed She Had Been Raped By Her Supervisor!
Sometimes the facts about sexual harassment are not always what they seem at first. You begin to peel back the layers of some of the most complicated sexual harassment claims you may just be amazed at what you find out. This seems to be more true with sexual harassment than any other claims made.
I thought I had heard and seen all types situations where employees were claiming sexual harassment!
Guess I was wrong.
This article on facts about sexual harassment will inform you about a time that gave me great pause. This was a real eye opener and forced me to be sure I did my home work thoroughly.
This was no time to take shortcuts and skip right to the solution. After all when an employee is claiming sexual harassment in the workplace it can be a very delicate situation since a lot of emotions are involved.
Facts about Sexual Harassment - Don't take shortcuts...
This was one of those times when checking facts could change the scope of the investigation completely.
There was a lot at risk and I knew that juries favor the employee in most cases.
This happened back when I was working with a very large international hotel as the Human Resources Director. I loved that job.
I made it a point to walk through the hotel every morning after arriving at work. I would get a good sense of what was going on.
On this particular day I arrived and did my usual routine of touring the hotel. When I got back to my office a young waitress that worked in our restaurant was waiting to see me. She was around 23 years old and had only been working with us a few months.
Facts about sexual harassment - She looked upset -- no she looked very upset!
Of course I asked her into my office.
Facts about Sexual Harassment - You were raped by your supervisor...
Before I could even get behind my desk to sit down... She sprang it on me!!!
She blurted out that the Chef had raped her two days ago. I almost fell over. My jaw dropped to the floor. To say the least I was stunned with disbelief.
She had just told me that her supervisor had raped her. How bad can this get - pretty bad I thought.
My mind started racing about any history of sexual harassment claims that I had dealt with. Was there any to draw upon - anyone else in the recent past claiming sexual harassment?
My first thought was to ask her if she had reported this to the Police. She had not.
I asked if she wanted me to contact the Police for her. She did not.
Facts about sexual harassment - Why doesn't she want to report this to the Police?
I needed to make sure I treated her with great respect and not place her at any further risk.
I also needed to quickly assess whether I should call the Police anyway if a crime had been committed on our property. This may not be merely be someone claiming sexual harassment - but in fact rape.
I needed to find out if any of our other employees were at risk.
Was our hotel at risk of any sexual harassment lawsuits or anyone else claiming sexual harassment?
I immediately asked my assistant to have the Hotel Security Officer come to my office – who I supervised.
I asked her to get a female manager from the waitresses department in my office as quickly as she could. I wanted the waitress to feel more comfortable and I believed this would help accomplish that.
Facts about sexual harassment - Anytime you have a person claiming sexual harassment - it might make them feel more comfortable having someone of their own sex sit in on the interview.
Finally I asked her to check to see if the Chef was on duty. He was.
While I was waiting for the others to arrive I stepped outside to a different telephone and contacted the Hotel General Manager and informed him of what was happening.
Facts about sexual harassment - The interview...
I asked her what specifically happened.
She began by telling me that two days ago the Chef had called her from one of our hotel rooms about 7:00 pm. He had gotten the room using our hotel discount - which was very normal.
The Chef asked her if she wanted to come to his room.
She liked him so she though it would be ok.
I asked if they had ever met prior to this outside the workplace.
She told me that they did a lot of flirting at some local pubs - but this was the first time they had met privately.
Facts about sexual harassment
I thought to myself that the Chef most likely had a history of sexual harassment in the workplace - and after this interview I would need to begin checking facts to find out.
Again I needed to know if the hotel was at risk of anyone else claiming sexual harassment.
He asked her to bring something to drink if she didn't like Vodka.
She picked up some beer and went to his room.
I asked her if she had checked in with the front desk?
She did not.
Facts about sexual harassment - We had a policy in our employee handbook that all employees that were off duty must check in with the front desk if returning to the property for any reason.
We also had a policy that no employee could consume alcoholic beverages on property whether on duty or off - including guest rooms.
Once at the room she could tell tell he had already been drinking.
I asked her if she was afraid of this?
She said no.
She then took one of her beers and joined him. She said they talked for about an hour or so.
He then asked her to come sit by him on the bed - so she did.
She said one thing led to another and before she knew it they had relations. She said after they finished they both took a bath together.
After finishing the bath they went back to the bed and had relations again. They then fell asleep. She slept through the night and to her knowledge he did also.
I asked her if she ever felt threatened?
She said not at this point.
When they woke up they had relations again. They then took separate showers. They got dressed and went together to a restaurant away from the hotel. They took his car.
She said it was during breakfast that she realized she had been raped. She said it was the way he was acting. That he was very rude and demeaning to her. They finished breakfast quickly and he took her back to her car.
I asked her again why was it at the restaurant that she realized she had been raped?
She repeated again that he was very mean and rude.
They parted ways. This was her first day back to work since the incident. She told me that she did not want to work with him again.
She told me she was now frightened of him.
I asked again if he had threatened her?
She said no.
I asked if she had ever told him to stop in any way. She said not exactly. She said that she cried during each time they had relations.
I then asked her if she would make out a statement and sign it for us. That she should include as many details as possible.
I had the Security Officer sign as a witness. Her statement reflected pretty close to the above information.
I also had the Security Officer complete a statement of the interview - as well as myself.
Facts about sexual harassment - During any investigation - including someone claiming sexual harassment - make sure you keep good notes and remember they can be called as evidence. Stick to the facts only.
I told her she could go home for the day and that I would make sure she got paid for her scheduled hours. But she should report for her next scheduled shift whenever that was.
Facts about sexual harassment - Checking facts...
I then asked the Security Officer to pull the hotel records to see if the Chef had stayed in the hotel two nights ago. If so - find out which room and pull the telephone records and see if a call was made to the waitresses home number.
I had my assistant pull the training records to see if both of them had attended our required annual sexual harassment class.
If so - when.
I also had her pull the personnel records for both to make sure they had signed for receiving, reading and understanding the employee handbook for the hotel.
I also wanted to review the personnel records to see if there was any other unusual incidents in either of their folders.
Facts about Sexual Harassment - Was this the first time for the Chef...
I then contacted the General Manager and the Chef's supervisor who was the Food Service Director. I asked the Food Service Director if there was any potential history of sexual harassment by the Chef that had not been reported.
He did not think so.
I had my doubts. Was this the first time for the Chef?
If the Food Service Director has seen that the Chef was potentially sexually harassing other employees and did nothing. We could have serious problems if others stepped forward claiming sexual harassment.
It is one thing to have a policy against sexual harassment - it is another thing to close your eyes to it.
Before meeting with the Chef to interview him - we did discover that both had signed their acknowledgment of reading, understanding, and receiving a copy of the employee handbook.
By the way - if your company - no matter how big or small - does not have an employee handbook - or some type of policies and procedures - you may be at risk.
The Chef had been to sexual harassment training within the last year.
The waitress was fairly new and I had a copy of her initial orientation training which included sexual harassment and reviewing all the hotel policies and procedures.
After reviewing the records we discovered that the Chef did stay at the hotel which was fine. We also discovered that a telephone call was made to the waitresses home around 7:00 pm.
Facts about sexual harassment - It was now time to interview the Chef.
I asked the Security Officer to be present for this as well. I also invited the Food Service Director to be a part of the interview.
I began by asking questions that I knew the answers to. Answers we obtained when we were checking facts.
Keep in mind the Chef was very nervous.
I asked him if he had stayed at the hotel on the date in question?
Without hesitation he said yes.
I then asked him if he had made any calls from the room that night?
He said yes - so I asked him who?
He did not provide the waitress as one of the calls he made.
I asked him if he had anybody visit or stay with him that night?
He said no.
I then asked him specifically if he had called the waitress that night?
He started wiggling around in his chair. He said no - why.
I then provided a copy of the telephone calls made from that room. I specifically pointed out the waitresses telephone number. He said ok – I called her - what's this about.
I asked if she had visited him that night?
He said no - and again asked why. I could really tell now that he was getting very nervous.
I asked him if he had been drinking that night?
He said no.
I then told him we have evidence that the waitress did come to your room that night. I told him I just wanted to give him one more opportunity to provide the truth.
He then reluctantly told me that she did come to the room.
I asked again if they had been drinking?
He again told me no.
I then asked if they had relations that night?
He then stood up and said I don't have to put up with this S_ _ t and started to walk out.
I told him that he was free to leave - but - I would accept that as his voluntary resignation if he did.
He said what do you mean. I repeated myself again and said I was not finished with the interview. If he wanted to leave fine - but it would be considered a voluntary resignation.
He came back and sat down again.
I again asked if they had relations that night?
Within the question I told him how important that it was that he be as very honest as possible. I told him that honesty was extremely important. If we should determine he was not being honest... it would not be good.
Facts about sexual harassment - This was a strategy I used often - giving them one more chance to be honest.
He then very reluctantly said yes.
I told him that now more than ever he needed to be honest about what happened that night. I asked him if either one of them had been drinking?
He now said that they had.
I asked him what were they drinking?
He told me he was drinking Vodka and she was drinking beer. He went on to tell me almost the exact same story as she did regarding the events that took place. Of course he did not regard it as rape nor did I ask him if he thought so.
Facts about Sexual Harassment - OK - Now what...
What really happened in that room?
Was she raped?
Should she be claiming sexual harassment?
Was it consensual?
Was there a crime committed?
I met with the General Manager, the Food Service Director, the Security Officer, and together we had a conference call with our Corporate Office Human Resources Officer.
We believed based on the evidence that no crime had been committed.
We based this on the statement that the waitresses provided and the interview with the Chef. Everyone agreed.
We debated whether it was sexual harassment or consensual sex. We all agreed that we thought it was consensual - however - because the Chef was her supervisor it potentially was sexual harassment.
We all agreed and recommended that both the Chef and the Waitress should be terminated and issued a termination letter for violation of company policy.
First - They both violated our no tolerance policy on drinking on hotel property whether on or off duty. Being in the room the Chef had paid for had no bearing based on our policy since it was covered within it.
Second - the waitress violated our policy on notifying the front desk upon her returning to the property when she was off duty.
Third - the Chef showed extremely poor judgment by having a relationship, even if consensual, with an employee that reported to him. This placed the hotel at risk and could not be tolerated.
After thoroughly checking the facts about sexual harassment out we did come to the right conclusion.
We never heard from either party again -- nor did we hear from the Police.
Facts about sexual harassment - Make sure you have an employee handbook and orientation that covers all your policies, specifically sexual harassment. Make sure they sign and get a copy of them. This is critical.
You should also follow up with annual refresher training on critical policies, such as sexual harassment.
Thank you for reviewing this article on facts about sexual harassment!
May God Bless You!
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