Employment Matters Blog

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Not Okay

Posted in discrimination, employer liability, harassment, sexual harassment

In this day and age, all employers know that sexual harassment in the workplace is wrong.  Right?  Not so fast.  If the allegations set forth in a case filed in in Utah on August 4, 2011 prove to be true, there is at least one supervisor out there who simply does not get it.  

As alleged by Trudy Nycole Anderson, a former employee of Lone Peaks Control, Inc., her direct supervisor subjected her to unlawful sexual harassment. The supervisor’s alleged behavior included: frequent references to Ms. Anderson’s body; unwanted sexual touching; soliciting Ms. Anderson for sex; and viewing pornography on his office computer.  Ms. Anderson further asserts that the company failed to take reasonable and necessary steps to promptly correct or prevent the harassment, and retaliated against her for asking that the behavior be stopped. 

 

Those of us who have been practicing employment law for years know that, although the behavior described above is troubling, there is nothing particularly remarkable about the allegations.  That is, until Ms. Anderson describes the Monday through Friday schedule that her supervisor put together for the office staff:

  • Monday: Mini-skirt Monday, no panties allowed
  • Tuesday: Tube-top Tuesday
  • Wednesday: Wet T-shirt Wednesday
  • Thursday: No bra Thursday
  • Friday: Bikini top Friday

 If a company supervisor’s really did put together this schedule, if it was intended as a joke, then it was a very, very bad (and inappropriate) one…  the employer and the supervisor have significant legal and public relations problems that should neither be ignored nor minimized. 

All joking aside, it is critically important for employers to follow the law, and to prohibit unlawful harassment, to foster an environment free from unlawful harassment, to promptly investigate complaints of harassment, and to take prompt and effective remedial action if unlawful harassment is found.  There are two sides to every story, and the employer has yet to tell its side. Hopefully, at a minimum, the employer will be able to show that, if the conduct alleged actually occurred, they took prompt and effective remedial and disciplinary action.