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Davis Brown Employment and Labor Law Blog



Employment Law Blog: Harrassment in the Workplace: The Three Take-Aways - September 18, 2012

This is the final post in a seven-part series.

 

In assessing training, harassment is the type of training that you probably need to do annually, or at least every other year and which creates a wide-array of perceptional differences with your employees. For assessing these matters we frequently tell these employees the following:

 

1. The Courts and others look at victims on a reasonable victim basis. In other words, they take into account that the person may have suffered discrimination or harassment before and how your behavior or the behavior of others may have affected that person.  While the behavior has to be reasonably discriminatory, it is in fact a reasonable victim standard.

 

2. One of the most difficult problems for employees and employers is to step out of their own mind set when they think about discrimination claims. One of the things we say about handling a discrimination investigation is that you have to take every investigation seriously, regardless of how you may personally feel about the complaint. When we talk to employees about how others might feel about receiving black balloons or a birthday cake with a vulture on it or seeing a calendar with bikini clad girls, frequently they do not understand why anyone else would be offended. Sometimes they think it is stupid that someone is offended. The point of this issue is that just because you are not offended does not mean someone else might not be. You have to respect the other persons' position, whether you agree with it or not.

 

3. "My tattoo does not give you permission to pinch me."  An employee's out of work behavior, such as working a second job at a bar, with sexually explicit acts, posing in magazines, getting tattoos or any other conduct of this type does not give you permission to talk to them at work about sexual matters, to pinch them or to proposition them on a regular basis.  No means No and acceptable professional behavior is not dependent on the number of tattoos that the person you are speaking with might have.