lThere are two types of harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment. Based upon the scenario, Mrs. Murphy has a legally viable claim for both quid pro quo and hostile environment sexual harassment against Personal Connections Are Us, Inc. Quid pro quo harassment occurred when the manager Dwayne Miller told Mrs. Murphy to accompany him on a trip in which they would share a room. He offered her a transfer to another department and a promotion if she exposed her breasts to him. She refused and was then demoted to the mailroom and took a pay cut. Hostile environment harassment occurred when Robert Singer, Mrs. Murphy’s co-worker, made comments about her picture in which she had a bathing suit top on. He took it a step further by taking the picture and putting it on his screensaver on his computer and made obscene edits of the picture. The likely outcome will be that Mrs. Murphy would win her sexual harassment case against People Connections Are Us, Inc.
Every claim should be treated seriously, no matter how unusual or seemingly frivolous it might first appear, until an informed decision can be made. The first step in an investigation usually involves an in-depth interview of the complainant. Areas that should be pursued during this interview include:- the cultural background of the complainant- a detailed reconstruction of the incident(s) that prompted the complaint- the context and circumstances in which it occurred- the involved parties prior relationship- the nature of the allegations against each individual in instances where incidents involved the participation of more than one person- the complainant’s expectations regarding how the alleged offender should be disciplined.
The investigation then turns to getting the accused’s account of events. In some instances, the accused may be angry when confronted with a sexual harassment charge, so the investigator needs to allow time for the accused to get over this initial emotional outburst. When the initial reaction has subsided the investigator should ask the worker to express what he or she believed happened during the incidents that were indicated. Allow the accused to relate his or her understanding of the situation completely once, and then return to it for the specifics. As with the complainant, make sure the discussion is specific and detailed enough to provide the necessary information for later decision making. This can be done by noting:-Dates-Times-Places-Circumstances-Words exchanged-Specifics of the alleged actsAgain, issues such as prevailing work environment and prior relationships should be discussed. Once the investigator has finished gathering information from the principal parties, they should then turn to possible witnesses.
These could range from coworkers who were present when the alleged incident took place to those who have relevant information on either or both of the parties involved. Employers need to interview these witnesses carefully, being careful not to fuel rumors, and/or be seen to have taken sides. The objective of these interviews is to gather factual data, nothing more. It does offer the opportunity, however, to show that the company is handling the investigation seriously, professionally, and carefully. Securing written statements is helpful. Once the investigation into the sexual harassment complaint has been completed, corrective action needs to be implemented. When corrective action is warranted, it can range from counseling to dismissal. The key factors that usually determine the severity of the corrective action are:-the nature of the offense-the desires of the complainant-the impact that the incident had on the workplaceAllegations of sexual harassment will be investigated quickly and thoroughly and will be treated with the utmost importance.
Penalties for violations of this policy may include demotion, suspension, and/or termination. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination in violation of federal and state law and Personal Connections Are Us, Inc. policy, and will not be tolerated. The human resources department of Personal Connections Are Us, Inc. will respond promptly to all complaints of sexual harassment. Employees, managers, and members shall be aware that violation of this policy will lead to serious disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. My top five suggestions would be:1.Take all complaints about harassment seriously2. Issue a strong policy statement condemning such behavior3. Inform employees about the policy prohibiting sexual harassment and their rights under the policy4. Develop and implement the complaint procedure5.Establish a management response system that includes an immediate reaction and investigation by senior management.