Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Here is what is at stake!
1. If you do nothing your organization can be held accountable!
2. If you act without doing your due diligence your company can still be held accountable whether by the accused or the accuser.
3. If you act by disciplining or terminating the accused it could ruin their marriage, if they are in fact married.
4. Depending on how you act it could effect employee morale.
5. Depending on how you act it could set the stage for any future incidents.
Here are just two wildly different sexual harassment in the workplace events that have happened to me. I have picked these two examples because they show the extreme from one end to the other that is possible.
In the complaint the female said that she felt uncomfortable with the male employee around. The supervisor of the female asked that the supervisor of the male employee to move the male to another area.
After asking a few questions I discovered that this was the first incident that the male employee had with the female. That all the facts above were correct and accurate and no additional information was discovered.
I did not find it to be sexual harassment in the workplace since it was the first time that it happened and once the male employee understood that his behavior was not welcomed it discontinued. The female acted correctly by indicating the males advances were not welcomed. There was no discipline issued to the male.
After extensive questioning of both the male and female we determined that in our opinion no rape had taken place; however, we strongly encouraged the female during the entire process to report the incident to the police. She continued to decline to do so.
Through our internal investigation we determined that the male asked the female to his hotel room within our hotel property. They both consumed alcohol and had sexual relations more than one time. After doing so the showered together and then slept throughout the night. The next morning they left our property and enjoyed a breakfast together at a restaurant. During the breakfast when he was acting rude to her she then believed that she had been raped the night before.
There are many more details to this story and I have presented them on another page of this website, but for the purposes of this article on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace this should be enough.
The company ended up terminating both employees. The male was terminated for poor judgment and grossly violating our sexual harassment policy by involving himself with an employee that he had control over.
We terminated the female employee for violating our drinking on company property and for returning to our property without notifying the Manager On Duty (MOD). We had a written policy in the form of an employee handbook that had both policies within them. The female employee had signed acknowledging that she had read and understood them.
During the termination we again strongly encourage her if she felt as though she had been raped to notify the local police department. We never heard from her again.
Again the two examples are at polar opposites, but this should give you an idea of the extremes that can take place. I have seen a number of clear cut examples of sexual harassment in the workplace and some that were harder to sort out.