Over the history of mankind men have tried multiple ways to woo women. Obviously many have been successful, but some have not worked. In today’s modern workplace threatening a woman’s job is not a route to success. No hearts are won with blackmail.
A recent case
The EEOC just published a press release that tells the case of a supervisor in a Florida garden nursery who apparently was attracted to one of his subordinates. He told her that he would give her “favors” if she would be his girlfriend. Using the “power and position” ploy often does not work and as you might suspect the worker refused his advances. Needless to say the supervisor did not like being a scorned suitor and a month later fired the worker. It is not hard to figure out that a complaint was filed with the EEOC. They investigated and attempted to settle but for some reason the company did not agree to settle, not a wise move. The EEOC filed suit and then the company agreed to settle prior to going to court.
This case cost the nursery in several ways. First it had to pay a fine of $40,000. Then they had to pay their attorneys, which was probably not cheap. Then they had to enter into a three year consent decree with the EEOC, which included the following:
- Agreed to conduct training in Spanish and English for its workers and management.
- The training will specifically cover sexual harassment.
- The company will also create and implement a new written anti-discrimination policy to be available to employees in English and Spanish.
- They will also post a notice about the lawsuit at the nursery, and
- Report future sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC for the duration of the decree.
They also get to have the company name splashed all over the news and Internet by being featured in a press release from the EEOC. That is always good PR.
Sexual harassment has taken on a new seriousness at the EEOC. According to the press release “Eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights under equal employment laws or reluctant or unable to exercise them is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).” Many states have also taken sexual harassment seriously and now require annual training. Whether or not you are in one of these states it is a good idea to conduct annual awareness training. Many companies are hesitant to conduct sexual harassment training because they are afraid that they will now have employees reporting harassment. That is backward thinking. Better to learn about it on your own initiative than to have it enforced. Conducting regular and periodic training will actually prevent situations due to the education and if it doesn’t it provides a defense for the company if anyone is stupid enough to violate the harassment policy.