Make Sure There is a Good Sexual Harassment Policy in Place That Applies to All Advises Chicago Employment Lawyer
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) December 19, 2012 – A sexual harassment policy is not worth the paper it is written on, if everyone in a workplace does not follow it, or if one does not exist.
“Thomas v. Comcast, No. 11-CV-1209, ND IL, 2012 is a good reference point for employers who have someone on staff that seems to feel hugging and kissing others is acceptable conduct in the workplace. While some workers might not be bothered by that kind of behavior, there will be others that take exception to it,” outlined Timothy Coffey, a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace.
The one thing an employer may take away from this case is that they need to have a good sexual harassment policy in place, and make certain ‘everyone’ follows that policy and that means supervisors as well. If a business has a worker that thinks he may hug and kiss others and pat them on the back, s/he needs to be advised of the sexual harassment policy, and the behavior stopped, immediately.
If the company does not step in and take matters into their own hands, they run the very real risk that the company ‘huggy bear’ will create a sexually hostile workplace before anyone gets up the courage to complain about it. If that happens, it is too late.
The Comcast case points this kind of scenario out quite clearly. The plaintiff worked as a customer service rep for the company and her desk was in a large room. Every morning, her male supervisor greeted everyone that arrived to work with a hug. It did not stop there. The man made sexual remarks to the plaintiff and indicated he thought she had nice lips, legs and buttocks. He once ‘accidentally’ kissed her, while standing over her.
“Fed up with the harassment, the woman complained, and was transferred to another team. Her huggy supervisor was told to leave her alone. However, despite being told to stand down from his behavior, he continued to hug everyone arriving at work. Another worker complained, and the man was fired,” said Coffey. The plaintiff sued, alleging she worked in a sexually hostile environment. Her employer’s reply to the suit was that she should have complained earlier, because she was aware of the process in place for situations like this.
At trial, the court indicated that since the woman’s supervisor seemed to continue his activities without any sanction from management, the plaintiff could reasonably assume that filing any kind of a complaint would not help her situation. “This simply means that the court felt the company did not have an ‘effective’ sexual harassment policy, as it turned a blind eye to sexual harassment happening in plain view,” Coffey explained.
Timothy Coffey is a Chicago employment lawyer and principal attorney for The Coffey Law Office, P. C., an employment litigation firm dedicated to representing employees in the workplace. To learn more or to contact a Chicago employment attorney, visit http://www.employmentlawcounsel.com
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