Body shots + booty shorts + live office sex = no sexual harassment

Sounds like one crazy party. Or just another Thursday at the Pine Woods Apartments.

Kristen Glemser had no idea…

On December 7, 2006, Kristen Glemser, a marketing/leasing agent for Pine Woods showed up for work, just like she would any other day. Except that some of the ladies in the office had planned a small party of one of Ms. Glemser’s female co-workers.

And they decided to get started early.

By 10 AM, many of the attendees were in the bag, and Ms. Glemser’s supervisor was sending her on a vodka run. When Ms. Glemser returned to the office, the party goers were eating breakfast.

(Does the celery in a Bloody Mary count as breakfast?)

After concluding breakfast, you guessed it, time to model the booty shorts.

Then things got really weird…

Or as the ladies in the office dubbed it, a “fashion show,” one in which Ms. Glemser testified at her deposition, she was not a willing participant:

The Plaintiff testified that Lorton asked her to wear the shorts. Lorton started to unbutton Glemser’s pants and pull them down. Glemser testified, “I realized she [Lorton] was so impaired that my pants were coming off. They were – if I didn’t take them off, she was taking them off.” The Plaintiff testified that she did not leave the bathroom because she felt she was restrained because Kim was blocking the bathroom door and Lorton was in front of her with her hands on Glemser’s pants. The Plaintiff did not ask Kim to move to the side so she could exit the bathroom. Glemser believed Kim was intoxicated at the time. Glemser testified she told Lorton, “Fine. I’ll wear them for you. I’ll put them on and that’s it. And so I put them on myself.”

It was right about this time that Ms. Glemser testified that she observed “multiple individuals engaged in actual or simulated sexual activity, while one of the men was pouring an alcoholic drink over a woman’s belly button area and licking it off.”

The next day, Ms. Glemser decided that working at Pine Woods just wasn’t for her. So, she quit her job the next day. Then she sued for sexual harassment.

Quitting before complaining dooms her sexual harassment claim.

On Monday, a federal court in Illinois (here) dismissed Ms. Glemser’s case.

Why, you ask?

Well, an employer can generally avoid liability for a hostile work environment if it promptly investigated complaints made by the plaintiff and acted to stop the harassing behavior. A prompt investigation is the hallmark of a reasonable corrective action.

Here, Ms. Glemser never reported the incident before she quit, despite being made aware of the Pine Woods {cough} sexual harassment policy. The one where it’s not cool to sexually harass your co-workers. That was their policy. Or at least that’s what Ms. Glemser read and signed when she worked there. And because Ms. Glemser never reported the party before she quit, management was never able to investigate and take corrective measures.

So, if there’s a takeaway from this post (searching, searching, searching…): Please encourage your employees to report harassment in the workplace, be it relatively minor, or, as in Ms. Glemser’s case, an “Anthony Weiner” on the inappropriateness scale.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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