HR Thursday: The Nightmare of Harassment Claims

Have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T and watch this VIDEO before reading any further….

How can you keep a harassment claim from happening to you?  PREVENTION IS THE KEY.  Employers often find themselves in these situations because they didn’t take the necessary steps to prevent harassment from occurring, or stop the behavior when it happens.

Understanding Harassment.  Most harassment claims generally take one of two forms:

  1. Hostile work environment
  2. Quid pro quo

Most harassment allegations fall under the “hostile work environment” category.  This is typically defined as “conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment”.

Hostile environment harassment can include, but is not limited to:

  • Indecent propositions

  • Inappropriate discussion of sexual activities

  • Obscene or discriminatory jokes

  • Displaying sexually suggestive or racial pictures

  • Crude and offensive language

  • Ethnic slurs

  • Pranks

  • Negative stereotyping

These situations rise to the level of harassment when it is severe and pervasive and the employee feels offended, intimidated, or fearful as a result of another person’s action.

The other type of harassment is referred to as quid pro quo.  This type of harassment is alleged less frequently, and occurs when an individual is asked to submit to sexual conduct and perceives his/her job is conditioned on compliance.  Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute “quid pro quo” harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment


All of the facts and stats on todays post are taken from a 2010 article in Dental Economics by Tim Twigg and Rebecca Crane of  Bent Ericksen & Associates

HR Thursday in the next few weeks will focus on what you as an employer can do to prevent a claim against you.

Tune in next week for another HR Thursday!  Same blog time, same blog channel.  

And don’t forget to have a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T while you’re navigating your fishbowl!

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