If you’re the victim of sexual harassment and you complain to management about the offending behavior, what actions must the company take?
This question is at the root of many work-place disputes.
A recent case from the Tenth Circuit, which includes Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, questioned if a nursing home did enough in response to an employee’s complaints of harassment. InAguiar v. Bartlesville Care Ctr., a nursing assistant complained to officials that a resident was groping her – kissing her had, touching her buttocks, and pulling her on top of him. She also complained that he was verbally harassing her.
In response to her complaints, nursing home officials talked to the resident
and required that two care givers be present when attending to the patient.
The nursing home also provided that different caregivers give him his
medicine. The nursing assistant claimed that these actions were not enough.
Because the resident was free to move about the nursing home, he continued
to seek out the nursing assistant and harass her. In one incident, after
“exchanging words” the resident made a threatening hand gesture
and pushed the assistant into a medicine cart.
The assistant claimed that the nursing home “could have and should have done more once it learned that the few steps it took were ineffective.” Although the court did not make a final decision about whether these actions were enough, it found that given the resident’s history and the series of complaints, it is possible that a jury could find that the nursing home’s actions were inadequate.
If you believe that you have been the victim or workplace harassment, the first thing to do is let a supervisor know. If they fail to take steps to stop the harassment or correct the situation you may have a claim for sexual harassment.