Female-on-male harassment is rare, we’ll give you that. But when one worker complained to four separate managers about a female employee’s behavior, the only advice he got was to walk around singing “I’m too sexy for my shirt.”
Hard as it may be to believe, that was the recent case of a newly widowed employee at a Las Vegas airport.
Here’s how the case shook out:
Shortly after his wife’s death, one of the man’s female co-workers began to make passes at him, giving him a love note that said she was “turned on” and wanted go out with him.
At the advice of his supervisor, the employee told the woman he wasn’t interested. But her behavior continued, and the man received a second love note and a sexually explicit picture the woman took of herself.
A second manager told the man that she would talk to the harassing worker and inform the company’s general manager of the woman’s behavior. However, the supervisor did neither, and the behavior continued. (Notice a trend yet?)
After a third, even more explicit love note (this one boasting of the woman’s ability to give a “very good bath wash and body massage”), the man went to the next manager up the chain of command and complained. That supervisor said he “didn’t want to get involved in personal matters,” but still spoke with the harassing female and told her to stop. However – and you can guess what happened next – the behavior continued.
Fed up, the man took his case to a fourth manager, the company’s assistant general manager. His response? That the situation was “a joke” and that he should walk around singing “I’m too sexy for my shirt.”
To make matters worse, the man’s co-workers began to imply he was a homosexual for refusing the woman’s come-ons.
The constant harassment soon got the best of the man. Previously a top performer, his quality of work declined, and he was eventually fired.
He sued, claiming he was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment. The court agreed – not only did the managers fail to respond to the man’s complaints appropriately, but the female worker was never disciplined for her actions.
Managers must respond appropriately
Though managers may find a situation like this humorous, it obviously wasn’t funny to the employee involved – and he ended up getting the last laugh in court.
The lesson’s clear: In today’s litigious workplace, managers have to take any and all complaints seriously. The last thing you want is a fed up employee, having exhausted all his resources at work, turning to the only people who’ll listen – a lawyer or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Cite: EEOC v. Prospect Airport Services