The back office at ABC Securities had always been a rough and hectic place to work. Now Sarah T. has come on board as the first female manager. She's getting a real hazing from her male colleagues—suggestive comments about her body, intimate questions about her weekend, and pornographic pictures on her computer screen.
Sarah joins in and seems to enjoy it. Is this a problem? We don't know. Does Sarah really enjoy it, or is she going along because she needs the job? (It's certainly inappropriate, in any case.)
One day, after particularly raunchy teasing, Sarah asks the guys to stop the hazing, she's had enough. However, that encourages the guys even more. Eventually, Sarah complains.
Management calls the managers together, reads the policy on decorum and harassment, and tells the managers that the behavior must stop. And it does—because the men no longer talk to Sarah. Is this harassment?
Yes, this type of avoidance behavior is certainly a form of harassment. Sure, it's tricky when a manager has to step in and try to tone down the atmosphere. But it's expensive not to.
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As receptionist for ABC Enterprises, Penny R. enjoyed the daily visits from the overnight delivery people and the office equipment repair people who were regulars on site.
Except for Jake P., the computer tech. Whenever he came in, he'd look her up and down. Then he'd come up to her counter and lean over and make some pretty rude suggestion about what he'd like to do with her. Even if the boss were walking by, he'd make his comments.
Penny did once get up the courage to say to her boss that Jake was annoying her, but the boss laughed it off, saying, "Oh, Jake, he doesn't mean any harm. And, besides, what can we do—Jake's not an ABC employee. "
After a few months, Jake's attentions became more offensive, and he began to touch her. She suddenly didn't feel very safe in her isolated area. Among the many visitors to her reception desk was an attorney who represented another employee. She called him.
Was Penny subjected to sexual harassment? It sounds like a hostile environment. Is ABC going to be liable? If the manager knew about the harassment—it appears he did—and didn't act, that will be a problem.
What about the fact that Jake isn't an employee? That may make it harder to stop the behavior, but it doesn't lessen the employer's burden to do so.
The biggest problem here is the manager, who should have acted. It's difficult for supervisors and managers to deal with situations like this, but deal they must. He needs training on harassment, and how to handle it.
But harassment training is one of, what, a couple dozen things your people need training on? Training is critical, but it's also demanding. To train effectively, you need a program that's easy for you to deliver and that requires little time from busy schedules. Also, if you're like most companies in these tight budget days, you need a program that's reasonable in cost.
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Trains in 50 key HR topics under all major employment laws, including manager and supervisor responsibilities, and how to legally carry out managerial actions from hiring to termination. (See a complete list of topics below.)
Uses the same teaching sequence master teachers use. Every training unit includes an overview, bullet points on key lessons, a quiz, and a handout to reinforce the lesson later.
Completely prewritten and self-contained. Each unit comes as a set of reproducible documents. Just make copies or turn them into overheads, and you're done. (Take a look at a sample lesson below.)
Updated continually. As laws change, your training needs do as well. 10-Minute HR Trainer provides new lessons and updated information every 90 days, along with a monthly Training Forum newsletter, for as long as you are in the program.
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We've arranged to make 10-Minute HR Trainer available to our readers for a 30-day, in-office, no-cost trial. Review it at your own pace and try some lessons with your colleagues. If it's not for you, return it at our expense. Click here and we'll set you up with 10-Minute HR Trainer.
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