March '18

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58 THE SHOP MARCH 2018 While those general guidelines are impor- tant, Gregg points to two exceptions. The first is any quid pro quo act, such as an individual being promoted in exchange for a sexual favor, or being terminated for refusing one. The second is any act by a top-level executive. "If I am a top manager, then my acts are perceived by the courts to be those of the organization itself," Gregg explains. This exception is a particular danger to smaller businesses, where just about any manager or supervisor might be perceived as a top-level manager. With those guidelines in mind, here are some practical steps recommended by attorneys: STEP 1 CREATE GOOD POLICIES "The number one step for protecting your business is to write policies that pro- hibit sexual harassment and promote a respectful workplace," says Gregg. "And don't just bury them somewhere in your employment handbook. Communicate them in employee orientations and con- tinually emphasize them in staff meetings." STEP 2 ESTABLISH A REPORTING PROCEDURE "Designate properly trained individuals to whom com- PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT Dating between supervisors and subordinates is a fact of life in many workplaces. What seems like a harmless relationship on the surface, however, can lead to disaster. Bad things can happen when a workplace romance comes to an end. "If a manager breaks off a relationship, the subordinate may start to view it as non- consensual from the beginning," says James J. McDonald, Jr., managing partner at the Irvine, California office of Fisher & Phillips. "And, if a subordinate breaks it off, any later enforcement of an organization's usual rules and standards may be interpreted as a form of retaliation." Either situation can spark a sexual harass- ment lawsuit. To lessen the danger, attorneys advise employers to draw up clearly defined fraternization policies. "Organizations are free to establish any poli- cies they want regarding workplace dating," says Bob Gregg, co-chair of the employment practice law group at Boardman and Clark LLC. "Some employers state that no one may date any coworker, or any supervised employee. Others allow consensual relations, but require the parties to notify management, which can then assess any conflicts of interest." While blanket prohibitions obviate imme- diate dangers, they can also lead to secret romances with unreported conflicts of interest. And still more serious ramifications may occur later if the relationship turns nonconsensual and a state of undetected long-term sexual harassment finally comes to the surface. "I personally do not like the 'no one will establish a relationship with anyone here' policy," says Gregg. "It's hard to enforce and people think it's draconian." So, what's a better idea? Gregg sometimes suggests a policy like this: "No one will use the workplace to make romantic advances, WORKPLACE DATING: YES OR NO? Flex-A-Lite introduces a new line of transmission and engine-oil coolers! The new stacked-plate design features all aluminum construction for minimum weight. The trans-cooler features dimpled plate and fin design and the engine-oil cooler use turbulized fins inside the cooling plates. Both technologies improve contact between fluid in tubes for maximum heat transfer. Motor State Distributing stocks the complete Flex-A-Lite product line supplying the parts needed to power your business! YOU ORDER, WE SHIP, WE MAKE IT EASY! 800.772.2678 Like Us On Ask About Our Proud Sponsor 3-18_Flex_Half_Page.indd 1 1/23/18 8:06 AM

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