8 More Harassment Scenarios—What Would You Do?

In yesterday’s Advisor, we presented several sexual harassment scenarios for training. Today, more scenarios and an introduction to the best lawsuit-fighting tool of all, the annual HR audit.

Managers and Supervisors, What Do You Do When …

A co-worker from another department keeps asking one of your people out, and brings candies. Your employee is not interested in dating the coworker and you are on a diet.

[You should step in and put a stop to this before it turns into a lawsuit. The organization knows of the behavior, and so must act.]

A delivery person keeps asking your receptionist out, and brings candies. Your employee is not interested in dating the person.

[Even though the delivery person is not in your employ, you must act. Speak to him or her, and if that doesn’t help, ask that another driver be assigned to your route.]

You are very attracted to one of your subordinates. You are determined to at least find out if the feeling is reciprocated.

[Dating between bosses and subordinates is forbidden at most organizations. Follow your organization policy, or talk to HR.]

Your work area is a back office operation that’s pretty hectic, and, you have to admit, a little gross. People swear at each other, call each other names, and make catcalls and comments at each other. One of the workers visits a joke website every morning and shouts out the gross joke of the day. Most of the workers participate, but a few seem uncomfortable.

[This is a hostile environment in the making. You have to tone things down.]

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Your boss has suggested, but not in so many words, that if you two were to develop a relationship outside of work, promotions, bonuses, and other benefits would come your way. You are not interested in the relationship, but worry that you’re not going to get a fair chance at the promotion, etc.

[This sounds like quid pro quo harassment. Report it.]

One worker checks personal e-mail at work and occasionally opens mail from friends that contains pornographic pictures. He shuts them down quickly and no one has complained of seeing one.

[Eventually someone will see one of these treasures and be offended. Furthermore, you don’t want these images on your network. When a lawsuit is filed, there’s the proof that the manager looked at those images at work.]

One of the organization’s best workers has approached you with a problem. She is being hit on by her department supervisor, but she doesn’t want you to do anything. She just wants it to be on record that she told someone. She’s handling the situation, and she asks you to promise not to discuss the matter with anyone.

[Once harassment has been reported, most experts would say, you have to investigate the complaint. Talk to HR. You can promise that you will try to keep the investigation as confidential as possible, but you cannot promise complete confidentiality.]

A group of your workers has decided that another employee is gay, and they are teasing the person mercilessly.

[Sexual orientation is not a protected class in many areas, although a good attorney will be able to make a case out of this situation in any jurisdiction. But beyond that, it’s not appropriate behavior for the workplace. You must stop it.]

Harassment is certainly an area where supervisors and managers can cause big trouble, but it’s hardly the only one. How can you make sure your people are doing things right? There’s only one way—regular HR audits. It’s the only way to make sure that employees in every corner of your facility are operating within policy guidelines. If you’re not auditing, someone’s p[robably violating a policy right now.

The rub is that for most HR managers, it’s hard to get started auditing—where do you begin?

To get your audits going, BLR’s editors recommend a unique product called HR Audit Checklists. Why are checklists so great? Because they’re completely impersonal, they force you to jump through all the necessary hoops one by one. They also ensure consistency in how operations are conducted. That’s vital in HR, where it’s all too easy to land in court if you discriminate in how you treat one employee over another.

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HR Audit Checklists compels thoroughness. For example, it contains checklists both on Preventing Sexual Harassment and on Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints. You’d likely never think of all the possible trouble areas without a checklist; but with it, just scan down the list, and instantly see where you might get tripped up.

In fact, housed in the HR Audit Checklists binder are dozens of extensive lists, organized into reproducible packets, for easy distribution to line managers and supervisors. There’s a separate packet for each of the following areas:

  • Staffing and training (incorporating Equal Employment Opportunity in recruiting and hiring, including immigration issues)
  • HR administration (including communications, handbook content, and recordkeeping)
  • Health and safety (including OSHA responsibilities)
  • Benefits and leave (including health cost containment, COBRA, FMLA, workers’ compensation, and several areas of leave)
  • Compensation (payroll and the Fair Labor Standards Act)
  • Performance and termination (appraisals, discipline, and termination)

HR Audit Checklists is available to HR Daily Advisor readers for a no-cost, no-risk evaluation in your office for up to 30 days. Visit HR Audit Checklists, and we’ll be happy to arrange it.

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