Have you ever experienced sexual harassment on the job?

Newell Normand
Friday, October 27th
Who bears the most responsibility to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace?  Men,  Women,  Men & Women Equally.  How  is sexual harassment legally defined  and what should employers and employees know to avoid lawsuits? Have you ever experienced sexual harassment on the job?   

This Hours guest:
Patricia Panell - of Gotcha Covered HR consulting firm
Sidney Lewis - Jones, Walker Law Firm, specializing in labor law

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

If you are thinking you gonna here some little Norman you're gonna have to wait till Monday jewels off today I'm Phil and then and I'll be done that occasionally in. Good to get back in here and well one Walken is a special guests are joining us now Patricia canal of got you covered HR consulting from Patricia thanks for coming in. Also Sydney Lewis who is with the Jones walk along from specializing in labor law. And we're gonna talk about sexual harassment on the job in the workplace. Something that is being Muslim on all across the country in the wake of the Weinstein issuing a local level here which has become national as the John best. Isn't that has been taking place in maybe we can all little bit better educated and if you're a business saw owner. Maybe you can get some tips on how you can avoid these problems. And if you have. Witnessed sexual harassment TVs have been a victim or you've seen and witnessed an in your company. We love to hear from you let our our our our guest a comment on it. And we do ask that you please keep the name of the company the corporation anonymously just tell us the details of the situation. A Sydney one must always you don't walk a law firm you do various types of Laura presentation but. The labor law how long you have been involved in in these issues like this that would involve sexual harassment. Since 1985. When I graduated from law school went right in the labor law. And if you would a patrician tells about got you covered HR London named you think you. We started on. Four years again as a consulting business and my business partners Stephanie all Weis and I both have. Backgrounds and and labor law so we decided to go to different direction quit practicing law. And reach out to the smaller and mid size companies. That didn't have in house professional HR. People so we found that those are the ones and our law practice it would come to us only when they were in crisis because they didn't have the problem solvers onboard. So typically that function would fall to the business owner. We're to the office administrator to the office manager or none of them really have the expertise to deal with that is dated days situations. So does got you covered only do. Preemptive measures tell mom and input and an handbook of what the policies are. Or do you actually represent them later on in cases I'm sure you called in for the cases of them go to court. No one gets to that point we we defer to an an attorney such as Sydney you we only do that core HR. Process. So they hope help them with their employee handbook will help them upon a process of setting up their program. And we do a lot of training in fact this week we've been doing a little bit of training on sexual harassment. With our fans have been busy I would think so that wears scheduling some training sessions now with some of our larger companies huddle. Training sessions go as a role playing the actually you don't have people interacting gives scenarios of what. What can happen yes we definitely is a lot of hypotheticals which are very educational. There informative and we just in this try to teach people on how to properly behavior in the workplace. And Cindy is the case is I guess who get referred to you when it comes time for representation. How prevalent. He's on these cases now isn't a growing problem we seeing more of that. And how many of them actually go to court and how many others have just been settle Osama. Where you know actually I've seen a decrease in harassment things. It was 1987. When the court. Supreme Court recognize harassment as a Foreman about discrimination and in the eighty's and ninety's we had a lot of company as employers. Instituted policies and implement a training. And basically set it up where I heard the Supreme Court directive. You know if they had a complaint brought to them they took prompt remedial action they distortion legal obligations so you've seen a lot more employers. Do the obvious and put the policies in place conduct the training enact quickly when they see or told. Up to complain of sex harassment. And it takes care of it where you didn't see that in the early part of their of of the law so quite so honestly we still get harassment. Our complaints usually it's in the form of immediacy charge which is you have to file before federal lawsuit. But in in my experience they've been on the decline. The problem as retaliation we see more retaliation claims. Because what happens is someone makes a complaint. We take care of it but then there's under the surfer assists this simmering resentment from a manager or supervisor. Who who's looking to get rid of the individual that complaint. And so for us for the labor turn is in my group that's one of the biggest problems because then that may have stopped the harassment of the discrimination. But did retaliation may go unchecked and my advice to employers is it is you know sex harassment so 1 morning offense you tell us supervisor. Whatever it is. To stop doing it you're gonna just Pelham one time they do it again they're gone and they value of the job they won't do it anymore but in the same breath you've got to tell them. You bet act like this never happened you better you so much as look at that individual who complain the wrong way and you're gonna lose your job that's the most important thing and that's. You know some of the problems you see in these these situations that arise. A concern. Of complaining a concern retaliation in the company from the top down just has to make sure everyone understands that isn't gonna happen. To avoid even getting to that point where one employee has to tell supervise another employee I don't like that stop it in and they get talked to by HR someone a supervisor. Com. It's such a gray area you know his descriptions of what is pornography and and what is Barton peoples are well I can't describe it that I know wanna see it. What is this gray area with sexual harassment I think it's even more vague as far as what constituted is there a legal description. That a judge or a jury and someone determine Macon determination a case can apply. Yeah and in that there's a big difference between bad decisions bad judgment. And unlawful harassment that rises to the level of liability. It's the harassment has to be severe and pervasive such that it alters adversely affects or reasonable person and their employment. To be then you know to the extent it gets to that level. There may be monetary liability but a lot of these cases you you juicy bad judgment you see bad comments are poor conduct. But it didn't quite rise to the level of unlawful harassment. But I tell supervises as good news and bad news the good guys may be that. Hey there the few things you did might not be recognized as unlawful harassment by the court. But they're definitely a violation of the company's anti harassment policy in the company has a right to fire you for one bad joke so. Abide by the policy if you value your job. All right if you got any questions stories you've got a story you'd like to relate. Of law perceived or actual sexual harassment in Europe company on your job would love to hear from you at 504. 260187. He also if you won attacks we get some text comments in. 870870. Please remember to text responsibly no texting and driving. Sydney Lois and Patricia canal or I guess it was talking about sexual harassment on the workplace. What is it legally how do you avoid it to keep out of court and also to make things work much from little on the job will be right back. I'm Don Dubuque in the new norm Emanuel listening to a on the big 870 WW. I am walking back there were having a very good discussion with a couple of experts Patricia pinellas got you covered HR consulting firm in Sydney Lewis of the Jones walk a law firm specializing in labor law. About sexual harassment are on the job what constituted what is it legally. How do you avoid it is a big part of it and let me get to some of these text on. This one says the problem just as big as a woman claiming sexual harassment just to get their boss coworker five. Seen any cases like that. It's how you avoid that moon attrition from what you were advising. People who do how would they avoid that from. The only thing that they can really do is there has to be training your your supervisors and managers need to understand what is appropriate in the workplace. And if they get a complaint then that has to be promptly investigated. And you know the parties may need to be separated while the investigation is ongoing until they can get to the bottom of what's really going on. It's a difficult situation and it really is sort of a case by case situation to to try to address. So we've got cases of of actual harassment taking place but then again we've got fake harassment taking place one. For other reasons are we got some more techs coming in this one says. We have situation of the guys and gals are authors always kidding around with no issue then one day one ladies got angry one of the guys because he confront her about not getting work done on time she went eight showing at the net though in the mail written up for inappropriate joking from the week before. Totally one sided is alongside me. Jason and when you see it a lot like we're just talking about it it you'll pretty usage charges and you investigated and that her in the complaint came up when there was some issues that that the complainer did not like. But no matter what if someone's complaining in there and good faith. In their complaint. It doesn't matter that ten people think of jokes funny if one person in that office doesn't think it's funny it should stop and you need to tell individual and cover yourself by writing up. Writing up the person that hey look this person was offended by this comment don't say it again. And depending on the severity of the cop of the conduct. Harassment is basically 1 morning final warning offense. You know. I know you think it's funny I know what the people think it's funny this person does Dawson so don't do it again. And continued. Continued. Engagement in that conduct really is a form of insubordination. I'd here's one now asking about the statue of limitations on sexual harassment maybe some people thinking now the U in this. Cannot go back and bring this up. Right that you avenues. You can you have to file any DOC charge to follow to proceed with a suit in federal court to file suit under title seven the civil rights. And analysts say this we're talking about sex harassment but one of the first things I do when I look at the hamburgers look at their harassment policy it's rarer now but. You'll find her a hand look at just has a sex harassment policy you need an. Complete anti harassment policy you need a policy that duke addresses harassment on the basis of race age national origin religion gender. It cover to cover everything you can't just concentrate on sexual harassment but. Any kind of harassment or discrimination you have to founding DOC charge when the received here downtown and because we're deferral state you have 300 days from the last act that occurred to follow that chart. Yes C investigates it could take awhile then you have ninety days after the accuracy issues. Whenever they need to dismiss it or they issue a cause finding our notice to suit you have ninety days policy federal court in state court. You don't have an administrative pre requisite you can go to state court within a year of the alleged offense and you get additional time. Up to six months if you had to meet your seat charge pending. And if I can just add to that because our a lot of my clients are small businesses and so the federal. So on my clients are well then I get you know I get a green light have to worry about this. Well no he didn't have to worry about this because just because you don't get prosecuted. Under the law doesn't mean that it's not that it's bright in as he still have to petroleum workplace. He stuck to teacher employees with dignity and respect and you wanna make sure that your workplace is somewhere where people feel safe when they come to work everyday. This kind of begs the question to protect both the potential employer and the employee can this be discussed in the job interview. If someone has made a priority DOC complain Ross secularist and are now you can even be brought up to discuss. That's for and it's unlawful retaliation on on both ends its unlawful retaliation for an employer. To try to find out if an employee has filed in the UC charger even made any kind of good faith complaint protected under federal law you can't refuse to hire someone. Because they filed a charge or otherwise made a complaint that was their federally protected right it's unlawful to refuse to hire. On the back and now it's unlawful and I actually have a case right now. Where it's alleged. That a bad reference was given after an employee left because she filed in the USC charge against. The employer so they bad mouth there. To a prospective employer and allegedly prevent prevented her from getting a job you cannot retaliate like ban on on either side. Nor during you know like I said earlier that the hardest thing is. Or are the most important thing is to make sure there's absolutely no retaliation. If someone raises a complaint at any time. I'd just get ripped in he's got a comment on line one Rick in Metairie thanks the call Rick. And who already. Barge. Company. Thank you see. And portray instituted there are so actual arrest that policy. Hours probably the biggest creditor. And they won so this. Trip coach of the EPO. And it can acquire. Each. And sent me back true my office. And give pay present change. And ever since then I've been. Not and render. So you are admittedly guilty of a and then when you went and heard the TLC's presentation you decided. How to behave yes. I like my job by iron. Prior to that it was just that trying to tolerated by channel that. When you wondered institute that policy. I hit this shot. About it. Rick thanks for the call got to take a break here we got the CBS news update coming up tonight will be followed by a local lose them we'll be back to continue this conversation if you had an incident that you wanna know where would be considered sexual harassment. We got a couple experts here Patricia canal in Sydney Lewis gives a call at viable for 2601878. Or send us attacks will be happy to share with the audience on the air you can do that and 870. 870. We'll be right back after the CBS news update followed by the WWL local news. Now welcome back anyway having a discussion about sexual harassment in the work place so what is it how was it defined how you can prevent it. Patricia and L is in that business was got you covered HR consulting firm in Sydney Lewis on the legal land specializing in late belong with Jones walk up. Law firm and getting back to my text messages that are coming him. This one says. Flirting is harassment inappropriate humor is harassment. On wanting unwanted touching his harassment discussing pornography subject is harassment. Treat cure. Employees with the same respect you would like common sense in the golden rules should prevail in the workplace and public. It's not that easy name this textile trying them to move define a black and white admitted there's going to be able to Graham there. Yet there has and that that comments are made an excellent point. Yet as part of the problem is that we have sort of a break down and and social mores. On it walk out of the saints game on any given Sunday and walked down the street especially if we've displayed Atlanta. Any hear the the language that she is out there and there's no filter to meet people don't even look around to see if they're Smart children aren't in it their grandmother of the and I think that's part of the promise like you just need to when you're at work. You have to deal with your coworkers with you know respect again respect and dignity those of the words of the day. If you're not gonna say something like that around to family you shouldn't say that around you can work. Curse got advice very go advised. I'm here's one that says. Can sexual harassment being committed off the job by text and phone pictures. Yes absolutely. You're enough had a feature I had one not too long ago where. Supervisors were off site and a bar and they got drawn to mourn in them off mail inappropriately touched a female supervisor in the there were on their own time and and then she came in the next day in and told the HR managers she was very upset. He came in a little while later and kinda had the attitude of hey what do I do one on them my time's my own business and we said. Not really you're terminated. You know if any off duty conduct. That has ramifications in the workplace can be acted on by the employer resulting in discipline up to termination. We've got dumb more techs come in in this one says the comment was made that you cannot speak badly. I'm an employee asked to being fired to a future employee so does that mean that they have to lie to every future employee after the fires. Now Louisiana's statute that protects importers and giving references as long as you're in good faith in your factual what you can't do. Is is. Let off prospective employer know that someone. May become a civil rights complaint filed a charge. For the purposes of harming that individual and getting the job and if if a client asks me hey can I tell them. About the CBS. Don't do it in fact you know most employers. Give neutral employment references. Present or get sued for defamation or civil rights violation images give name rank and serial number and confirm that the individual was important. Another question about regular harassment not sexual I've been followed and threats in my face told the manager and all she did was talked to her. Same same. Or parameters on regular harassment and sexual. Harassment sometimes is used when it done apply. This harassment that's that's a violation of the policy that's harassment that's actually an awful but their personality conflicts as well and a lot of times. When I'm helping clients on dealing with personality conflicts. Between employees are between managers between managers and employees. And and that's all it is it's it doesn't. It doesn't get into discrimination. Or harassment unless a conduct. The complained of conduct is based on a person's race age gender and national origin religion. If it is based on and so on his picking on someone because of their rage over forty or race or religion or gender. Then man is on wall. It's a violation of policy. It's potentially unlawful to the point. All of monetary liability depending on how serious it is and how it affects implore. Highway Neil's take a break here got a couple more very interesting text questions about scenarios that workplaces. And Patricia before we get away from him want you to definitely point out steps big business you should take because on a lot of people walking on eggshells right now as you said your phones been ringing because people are considering. Putting in policy loses they don't have them instituting handbook policies and also may be having some training classes foreign imports. We'll be right back after this. I thank you follow the text message we'll try to get to yours before we go off if we Campbell wanna get took calls for us we have John a cell phone now wants to talk about sexual harassment when I guess John thanks for you call. Good morning. I guess this be. The main topic of discussion on the radio sexual harassment and there. So that. You know your. That's all. I am and does as well there were situations. And but. People have been falsely accused of sexual advances in. Decide you know the war and the and he might just. I made a mistake in well. In the more but it. Q the deal the Utley and the so. It's so it's. Falsely accuse. Where there is to keep. The other Derek did it keep you back again. There it worked and there's. A reputation and I am very good question John Sidney want to take that well you you have a lot of situations where. If this no corroboration. Than you always hope this corroboration if someone makes a complaint. And and it's it's hard work vs his. And a lot of times I'll say I said it I didn't mean it was just joking you know what being serious but that a lot of times LB vehement they'll say absolutely not I never said it. That is a complete lie and unless you can terminate someone for making her complain if you find a smoking gun and have. Clear evidence that fabricating. And with taxing emails and social media FaceBook sometimes it's easier defined. But otherwise if there each standing their ground that it's somewhat of a dilemma. And for supervisors were accused you you kind of just got to tell us about that look this is. This is in the part of doing your job that's that's it's a tough part she's made the complaint you're denying it. We're telling you that if you if you make any comment like this going forward it's gonna cost you jobs so hey let's let bygones be bygones call on down. Just act like this didn't happen. Continue to supervise and then everything will be fine but we're duty bound to talk to you as a supervisor. To see that this stops or as an employee to see that if this was happening. It doesn't happen anymore and you just got to take it and roll with it and not let it burn you out. Interest. I'm just glad to that on I have a client here had a situation similar to that they had a complain of sexual harassment. Small office and it was. To equal level managers humor come in and then so when one complaint was filed another complains files are basically accusing each have their sights enhancing its other. So this company brought us and an SS to go over to this officer was ever in the Houston area. And we interviewed every single person and that and that workplace. And at the end of today a story starts coming together and you kind of see that this was not sexually harassing situation it was just two people who had. Personality conflict and and so I think he's a very very important for companies to understand not to have a knee jerk reaction if they get a complaint and for supervisors and wealthier accused of sexual harassment. Don't panic. But approach it and calm way and make sure you get all the facts to a thorough investigation before you start making decisions. So neo and we got to get to break but quickly part of John's question was how does that reputation get restored. Don to you gonna girl meet on form is only dot com she's claiming on Sunday and was sexually. Explicit pictures or something like that this makes the news but none of that was true. Carlyle and the mood is not gonna pick that up and say oh dom was exonerated that he didn't do any of that. Right I'm you know I've had a couple of cases that made the news in an TB paper and it sounded pretty horrible because they were reporting right from the complaint. And and both these cases get dismissed on summary judgment because there was another side of the story that completely gave a different light to the allegations. Yeah. That person seek damages against the accuser. Not and and usually not there if that individual in good faith felt that the that the something bad did happen her. The you know they're allowed to bring the complaint however. You you know you rule eleven in federal court you have a mechanism if there for court or jury or you know to judge feels. That it was clearly a frivolous complaint. The plaintiff could be liable for all attorneys' fees and you see that DOC has been hit with attorneys fees of quarter may and a half million dollars lately in the past few years. Because they brought complaints. Of harassment discrimination that the judge felt was completely for. In some cases it could be loss of business revenue that Kamal to a considerable amounts on something to consider. Are we take one last break Donny and reserve we get to you call we come back and Patricia still like you to give a quick overview. It may be refer people to youth they wanna establish a policy given Campbell will be right back to do it. After this. Donnie I'm sorry we're not gonna get to hear you very addressing sexual harassment case Petraeus she's got a minute assault tell us what people conducive business owner. And wanna contact you about setting up policy and handbook. Well first of it's very important to set up that policy we regardless of the number of employees you have you've got to have your policies together and address the situation. I'm happy to talk to anybody it's. WW is that BA dot dot dot check covered HR dot com. Can't miss that got you covered consulting firm also we have Jones walk along from a somebody needs representation Sydney so like you right guy for sure. I was gonna be back next now we gonna talk about the why did they are not releasing on the documents related to the JFK assassination the life of me I can't figure out why. Fifty years later someone do me embarrassed and how national security. Could be compromise a stay Willis will be right back after the top of the hour news. On the big days seventy WW well.