- Executives at a New York Mitsubishi dealership did nothing to stop a general manager from repeatedly sexually harassing female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has alleged in a lawsuit. In fact, the vice president of human resources "witnessed and encouraged the harassment," the agency claimed.
- The general manager of James Mitsubishi Hamburg made numerous unwelcome sexual advances and comments to two female employees, the Commission alleged. His behavior included unwelcome massages, mimicked sex acts and inappropriate comments and invitations.
- One woman quit because the employer "took no action to stop the harassment," EEOC said.
Employers may be "automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages," according to EEOC. Employers that act appropriately when harassment complaints are made have a strong defense in face of a legal claim.
The EEOC has sued several employers recently, alleging that they ignored the hostile work environments created by managers and supervisors. The agency took an Arkansas Pei Wei to court, for example, for allegedly ignoring complaints that two managers were sexually harassing employees.
Generally, to avoid liability in instances in which sexual harassment has occurred, the employer must prove that it tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior and that the employee failed to take advantage of the preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer. Recently, a court ruled that an employer was not liable for sexual harassment because it took prompt action to stop the harassment.
Compliance training is also important in preventing discrimination and harassment claims. Employers should conduct harassment training at least once a year, with separate sessions for managers and employees, Robin Shea of Constangy Brooks, Smith & Prophete previously told HR Dive.