Employer wins lawsuit despite a “pattern of systematic sexual harassment”

sexharass.jpgIn Mann v. Staples, Inc., a female employee received unwelcome comments about her appearance and physique, was kissed and groped, and called a “skank ass bitch.” The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, described this as a “pattern of systemic sexual harassment” — one in which the alleged harasser appeared to have never received any anti-harassment training.

So, what did the court do? It affirmed summary judgment for the employer and dismissed the plaintiff’s Complaint.


Find out why, after the jump…

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(By no means meant to reflect upon the plaintiff, but when else will I get a chance to play this song? I mean, really…)

According to the court, the employer’s complaint procedure and it’s subsequent implementation made all the difference here:

[T]he facts in this matter show defendant had a specific policy prohibiting sexual harassment; trained its management personnel on these policies; made available a defined and publicized procedure for a victim to present harassment complaints; completed a detailed process to investigate those complaints; and followed through with identifiable remedial and corrective action.

The Court then did my job and offered all of you a good takeaway:

A company that develops policies reflecting a lack of tolerance for harassment will have less concern about hostile work environment or punitive damages claims if its good-faith attempts include periodic publication to workers of the employer’s antiharassment policy; an effective and practical grievance process; and training sessions for workers, supervisors, and managers about how to recognize and eradicate unlawful harassment.

Given that EEOC charge activity is at a record high, if it’s been some time since you last reviewed/updated your anti-harassment policy or trained your workforce in this area, now would be a good time to do that.

Sexual Harassment at Work stock photo by www.pixmac.com