Freind and Sextual harrasment

Im the president of a small corporation. I have a female mananager That I knew personally (freinds) before I hired her. She always gave me personaladive on my relationship for example Your girlfreind is not beinging honest with you she is seeing someone else etc. Shealways used her sexuality to get the employees to work for her by flirting with them (me included)for over 2-3 years. One day I mis read her intentions and tried to kiss her. She did not pull away but laughed and said she had a boy freind. I treid again with the same results. I relized I has wrong and apologized to her. She said don't worry it was nothing she was gald I tried it with her instead of someone else. I told her I mis read her intetions and not to flirt with me anymore. Two weeks later she had told my whole crew about it and quit with no notice. I found out later she was looking for another job and needed to start right away. I felt like I handled it like a gentalman and NO means NO but now she is acting like she can own my company with a sexual harrasment suit. Did I sexually harass her??

1 answer  |  asked Jul 11, 2004 01:10 AM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Gregory Gordillo
Twice Is Probably Not Enough

Attempting twice to kiss an employee was not wise, but probably not sexual harassment either. Sexual harassment must be conduct that is severe and pervasive. The conduct must be offensive to a reasonable person and to the person claiming sexual harassment. Given the context of your relationship with the employee, two attempted kisses probably does not meet the definition of sexual harassment. But if you are sued, you can expect that the employee will include more allegations than the two attempted kisses. Although your conduct does not seem to rise to the level of sexual harassment, much judgment is needed to decide. In other words, the extent to which you would be forced to defend such a claim will depend a great deal on the individual judge who presides over the case.

Even if your conduct is considered sexual harassment, you and your company may still have a defense if you had in place an anti-harassment policy that provided the employee with a way to report her complaint to someone other than you. If such a policy was in place and effectively communicated to your employees, her failure to use the policy is a defense to her claim. On the other hand, if you had no such policy in place, you and your company are highly suceptible to liability for sexual harassment.

These cases are highly fact specific. Given your description, I can only provide general information to you about the law. If she asserts claims against you, you and your firm should certainly obtain legal counsel. If you have not retained legal counsel within the last 3 years to assist your firm with developing anti-harassment and discrimination policies, you should do so immediately.

posted by Gregory Gordillo  |  Jul 11, 2004 12:17 PM [EST]

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