Sexual harassment is very prominent in the news these days with accusations arising in the political world. So it is important for all good HR people to have some heightened sensitivity to the subject. So I am making today Sexual Harassment Awareness Day and I have provide three good reads that are dealing with current issues
First however you must realize that there are alot of differing definitions of sexual harassment. The two that HR needs to be concerned about involve the workplace. The first of these is Quid pro quo sexual harassment. This is the stereo typical sexual harassment situation, the situation most often thought of when you hear the words “sexual harassment.” It is the situation where a “superior” requires of a “subordinate” an act of sex in order to maintain a job, to get a job, to get a reward or to avoid a punishment, including terminaton.
The second type of harassment is “hostile environment” and is best defined as harassment based upon gender and not the act of sex. It is the situation where men do not think a woman should hold a certain job title so they make life difficult for her. Or it is the situation where the words, actions, looks, jobs, touches, relationships of others make an individual uncomfortable in their day to day work environment to the point that cannot produce productive work. Quid pro quo situations only require one instance to allow a claim of harassment. Hostile environment requires a pattern of behavior. All incidents require immediate and thorough investigation by HR. If a claim is not taken care of appropriately then the person claiming the harassment has 180 days to file a claim with the EEOC. Beyond that is past the statute of limitations. I have written several times about harassment including “you knew or should have known“, “why it is important to have a bypass in your policy“, and “what do you do if HR is being harassed?”
There is also alot of sexual harassment that is claimed in situations not involving work. Celebrities are often charged with harassment when a social situation goes beyond the boundries of one of the parties involved. While not acceptable the solutions for this do not involve the EEOC. The claims of alleged sexual harassment against Herman Cain did arise in a work situation, but today are well beyond the statute of limitations.
Because it has been in the news a number of people have written on the topic. Here are three that I found interesting.
- Yes, Conservatives, There Is Sexual Harassment written at the Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home blog.
- Is it Settlement or Severance? Written by Phillip Miles at the Lawoffice Space blog
- Women Who Work in Positions with Greater Likelihood of Sexual Harassment Paid More written at WISCONSIN EMPLOYMENT & LABOR LAW BLOG by Enochs Law Firm, LLC
So take this time of heightened awareness to reevaluate you polcies and procedures regarding sexual harassment to make sure you are current and legal.