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Four Steps Saved Company When Manager Was Accused of Harassment

Posted:

The steps this organization took after a sexual harassment complaint are textbook examples of what employers should strive to do in these situations.

Jacqueline Lee, who worked for Dairyland Power Cooperative in Wisconsin, sued Dairyland (case), claiming she was the victim of sexual harassment and subjected to a hostile work environment.

Bad behavior

She said her supervisor and two Dairyland workers discussed their desire for Lee to wear "spring outfits," and compared her to another woman described as "here come the jugs."

But Dairyland argued her lawsuit should be thrown out because it lacked merit — and the court agreed for a number of reasons that provide a lot of guidance to employers when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment claims.

For starters, the court said no one "could find Dairyland failed to take reasonably sufficient action to end further harassment." Here is why:

  • Human resources met with Lee the day after she complained, and again at her home, and launched an investigation.
  • Lee was put on paid administrative leave until the investigation was over.
  • Lee's supervisor apologized to her during a meeting with human resources and promised not to harass Lee and to protect her from retaliation.
  • Lee's supervisor was disciplined with a two-week unpaid suspension.

In its ruling, the court said:

[The supervisor's] apology and promises to prevent further harassment following this single incident show Dairyland took meaningful steps to remedy the work environment. Additionally, despite Dairyland's action to remedy the work environment, Lee failed to take advantage of the corrective opportunities afforded by Dairyland. As such, even if the sex discrimination Lee experienced was severe or pervasive enough to be actionable, Dairyland's actions and Lee's response foreclose any liability.

Posted In: Sexual Harassment

Want to know more? Read the full article by Jared Bilski at HR Morning

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