18-10Whitestone Expressway, Whitestone, NY 11357 718.746.5900 / www.gnyada.com GNYADA Employee Relations Plan Newsletter
5 How to discipline an employee who has committed sexual harassment
Many factors must be taken into account when considering how to resolve an occurrence of sexual harassment. Considerations such as the specific nature of the offense, the relationship between the parties, and what outcome the complaining employee would be comfortable with make it ill-advised to have a“one-size-fits-all”discipline policy. While automatically terminating the offender may seem like the most straightforward approach, a one-strike rule may backfire. A strict policy could actually make some employees reluctant to report bad behavior. For example, if an employee just wants a colleague’s behavior to stop, they may not report it, knowing it may lead to termination. This could allow objectionable behavior to continue. In first-offense situations in which the infraction was not severe (i.e., an off-color joke or comment), dealers may consider resolving the issue by: • Ensuring that the employees do not interact with one another. However, use caution if moving the complaining employee to a new department or shift, as this can be perceived as retaliation.* • Having the offender complete training to ensure that their one- time violation stays that way.
If the offense was more serious, but not severe enough to warrant termination, suspension may be appropriate. Dealers who are considering suspending an employee should contact ERP to ensure that suspension does not violate wage and hour laws. For severe occurrences, dealers should consider terminating the offender, as allowing the individual to remain on staff may create an unsafe/hostile work environment.* Note: Carefully document the investigation and justify any disciplinary decision in order to protect the dealership against a potential claim of wrongful discharge.
Think and Wait before
An automobile dealership agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit in which a lot manager was alleged to have sexually harassed dozens of employees. The manager’s behavior allegedly included flagrant sexual comments, requests for oral sex, and regularly touching, grabbing, and biting employees’ buttocks and genitals. The suit also alleged that the dealership retaliated against employees who objected to the sexually hostile work environment. More than 50 employees received relief through the settlement, which also required the dealership to: - Implement policies and practices to ensure a work environment free of sexual harassment; - Evaluate its managers’compliance with anti-discrimination laws; - Hire a monitor to oversee the dealership’s efforts to provide a sexual harassment-free workplace; 6 *If an employee belongs to a union, check with counsel before taking any disciplinary action to ensure you are not violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Dealership Pays $2 million to Settle Sexual Harassment Suit
- Provide regular anti-discrimination training to its employees and managers; and - Report other discrimination complaints to the EEOC for the duration of the decree.