Reasons Why An Employer Should Take Sexual Harassment Claims In The Workplace Seriously


Any Employment law firm worth its salt will tell you that companies have to take any claims of sexual harassment seriously otherwise they risk prosecution, as well as a hefty fine. Gone are the days when employees who made complaints were told to simply 'work it out' with the person doing the harassing. Nowadays any complaints of this nature have to be handled in a sympathetic and indeed sophisticated nature, and any company that simply stumbles through the process could find themselves in more trouble than they bargained.

Harriott vs Money Mart

A good example of this is was the case of a customer service representative who worked for Money Mart in Toronto Canada. It didn't take too long for Marjorie Harriott to realise that her boss Des Wade liked women just that little bit too much. He would often stare at employees and customers alike whom he took a liking to whom and would make crass comments about the size of their breasts or the pertness of their rear ends. Many employees found this behavior not only degrading, but offensive also. In some instances he would also get that little bit too close to the staff, sometimes touching them.

Matters came to the crunch one day when Wade approached Ms Harriott and started to massage her neck. As a result, she reported this and many other incidents to the company boss. Following this Money Mart said that their HR department would look into it. A few weeks had passed and Harriott didn't hear back. As a result, she phoned another manager in the HR department to find out what the delay was. She was then told that there had been an investigation and the case had closed. She simply had to 'work it out' with Wade.

Deeply upset about the company's failure to investigate the situation she took matters into her own hands and sought the services of a highly skilled employment law firm. After meeting with her they agreed that she did have a case and as a result she took the company to a Human Rights Tribunal. The tribunal totally rejected the defense of Money Mart who stated that Marjorie Harriott had indeed condoned the behavior of Wade with the result that the panel of the tribunal were offended by the lack of investigation into the claims. Consequently Money Mart and Wade were ordered to pay $30,000 in compensation

So with this being an outcome of a somewhat half-hearted attempt at an investigation, what's the best course of action for an employer?

Independent investigation

If any business or company hears of a sexual harassment complaint, it isn't a good idea to try to keep it 'in house'. Instead look to seek the services of an independent investigator who is able to provide solid evidence. This way as an employer, you have definite ammunition against the perpetrator rather than simply witness statements.

Follow up on harassment policies

A team of employment lawyers Los Angeles advises that if your company has strict policies on dealing with sexual harassment then make sure they are followed through to the letter. Also all meetings need to be documented.

Suggest an immediate solution

Right from the 'get go' try to find a solution to the issue before it goes too far. Maybe suggest a transfer or move of position for the plaintiff or alternatively deal with the situation and make an apology. It is fair to suggest that if the situation can be nipped in the bud, and the perpetrator dealt with before the situation gets out of hand, then there is a good chance that the company won't be facing a hefty fine and having a lawsuit hanging over them.

Clearly any sexual harassment claim has to be handled in a delicate and understanding manner, yet the company should be decisive in its actions. There should be a sense of urgency in the need to take positive steps to eradicate the problem. If it is handled badly or wrongly, then this could spell trouble for the company concerned as the employee in question looks to sue. In most cases the lawsuit will look favorably on the victim if their employer fails to take action. If you need any advice on what to do in a sexual harassment situation, then contact experienced and highly skilled Los Angeles employment attorneys today.