When sexting 64 times in 2 1/2 hours ISN’T sexual harassment

Beginning in October 2007, a doctor at a chiropractic practice repeatedly sent lewd and sexually offensive text messages at all hours of the day and night to his receptionist in which he requested sexual favors and made lewd comments such as:

  • “suck me beautiful,”
  • “I’m so @#$%^,”
  • “U want to fuck on my desk,”
  • “I want to fuck u do u want to? Let’s make it saucy,” and
  • “Come and suck it and I will feel better.”

The receptionist sued her employer for, among other things, sexual harassment…and lost!

Find out how, after the jump.

* * *

Sounds like a slam-dunk right?

After receiving 64 “sexts” and rebuffing other advances from Doctor Feelgood *** I may have made that name up ***, the receptionist had decided enough was enough. So, in November, she called the Clinic Administrator, complained of the doctor’s behavior, and furnished copies of all of the text messages.

***Remember employers, the victim always saves the text messages***

After providing a report of her supervisor’s behavior, the receptionist advised the Clinic Administrator that she no longer felt comfortable working at the clinic and did not return to work. Instead she complained to the EEOC. After the EEOC found that the evidence suggested that the doctor had sexually harassed her, she sued in federal court.

At her deposition, the Clinic Administrator testified that she had never received anti-harassment training and she had no idea if employees received training either. Further, the employee handbook did not list any particular name or phone number to call to complain.

A slam-dunk, right?

Wrong! At least, not according to the Southern District of Alabama in Kurtts v. Chiropractic Strategies Group, Inc.

The court pointed out that an employee must give the employer sufficient time to remedy the situation following receipt of an employee complaint of unlawful harassment. Here, because the receptionist quit immediately after she complained of sexual harassment, the court found that there was insufficient time for her employer to have corrected the situation. So, even though the court believed that the doctor had created a hostile work environment that was both severe and pervasive, the court was persuaded that the clinic did have a procedure to remedy unlawful harassment in the workplace, but was deprived of the chance to do so. Therefore, the court dismissed the receptionist’s claims.

You may not be so lucky the next time.

Don’t count on winning too many lawsuits with slipshod anti-harassment policies and employees who quit right away before affording a chance to investigate. 

Is your anti-harassment policy up-to-date? Better yet, when was the last time you reviewed your anti-harassment policy. If it has been at least one year — or even six months — you may want to look it over. Or better yet, have an attorney look it over to make sure it’s good and legal. Also, don’t just write a policy. Educate your employees about the policy. That means, train them; preferably with separate training sessions for employees and supervisors. 

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. This is not one of those instances.

Image credit: RealisticRelationships.com