Managers can’t wait for a sexual harassment complaint
This morning in my Respectful WorkSpaces program on preventing sexual harassment, I showed a new video where the supervisor and employee obviously are buddies. In the course of a conversation about work, the employee casually mentions his female co-worker has been patting him on the butt. The supervisor says, “I’ll talk to her,” and the employee says no, don’t do that.
Some of the folks in the course had a hard time understanding that the supervisor must go to HR immediately. They said it was just a casual conversation between friends, the employee wasn’t talking to him in his role as a supervisor. He wasn’t intending to make a complaint.
It doesn’t matter. No matter how good their friendship, the supervisor is on duty 24/7. He has to report it. And when he does, HR needs to advise him to terminate the harasser immediately, because patting a butt is sexual assault and in some states, it’s a felony. HR also needs to find out if the employee wants to file a police report. Not too long ago, a police officer on Maui who patted the butt of a female co-worker was convicted of sexual assault, and ordered to register as a sex offender.
Even if the supervisor wasn’t a supervisor, if he was just a co-worker friend, he still should report it. He needs to go from being a bystander to an upstander. That’s how we stop sexual harassment.