Do you think that sexual harassment must always involve “sexual” comments or physical contact? If you do, think again.
Numerous federal court decisions have made it clear that hostile environment “sexual” harassment can be proven in various ways. Obviously, harassing actions that are motivated by sexual desire is one way to prove a hostile environment. However, other forms of sexual harassment can include a manager or an employee (1) having a general hostility toward members of one gender, or (2) treating members of one gender more favorably. A manager who regularly invites only his male employees to lunch or an employee who claims to hate all women could lead to a huge HR headache.
When investigating claims of harassment, fully investigate the underlying actions at issue in the complaint. Even if the person complaining about harassment doesn’t characterize it as “sexual,” make sure the alleged harasser is not treating members of one gender differently than the other.