Education services provider pays $57K to settle sexual harassment claim
- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says a New York-based special education agency must pay $57,000 and other relief to a job candidate for rescinding her employment offer when she refused to socialize with the agency’s chief executive officer.
- The complaint states that Special Education Associates’ CEO asked a job candidate for a date after offering her employment. After she refused and said she hoped her employment with the agency could move forward, the CEO rescinded the job offer and hired a man instead.
- EEOC filed the sexual harassment claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Special Education Associates opted to settle the case.
Sexual harassment under Title VII is clear: unwanted sexual advances, including language and behavior, is prohibited by law. Employers must not only post their anti-sexual harassment policies in the workplace for all workers to see, they must also enforce their policies.
HR is required to follow up on all complaints involving unwanted sexual advances. The alleged harasser is never too high up in an organization to avoid being investigated. HR managers have had to confront senior-level staff and follow up with adverse actions as warranted. Additionally, this case serves as a reminder that compliance violations can happen at any time during the employment lifecycle.
Uber and Fox News ignored sexual harassment in their organizations until accusers went public and exposed the alleged behavior. Sponsors at Fox News pulled multi-million dollars worth of advertising from former host Bill O'Reilly's broadcast. And those are just the most recent high profile cases in a year that has seen several well-known brands charged with sexual harassment claims.
Employers must weigh the consequences of ignoring sexual harassment allegations against overhauling their cultures to make the workplace safe and positive for all workers.