Sexual Harassment in 2017: Let’s End It!

Something feels wrong about the fact that in 2017, people are still victims of sexual harassment. It’s good we have the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to crack down on the problem, but the fact that it’s still happening is just mind boggling to most.



Sexual harassment often takes place in the workplace or other professional or social setting. Victims are often targets of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. A common misconception about sexual harassment is that the harasser is always male and the one being harassed is always female. While an overwhelming majority of sexual harassment claims and charges fall into this category, harassers can also be women and the harassed can also be men. In addition, there are some cases where members of the same sex harass each other.



An example of an EEOC racial and sexual harassment lawsuit that was recently settled with Labor Ready Northeast, Inc. is one of the more common sexual harassment lawsuits but also illustrates a situation that could have been avoided altogether. Labor Ready specializes in connecting temporary workers to steady work that matches their preferences and skills. Two of their female employees were sent to a job site for one of Labor Ready’s customers, where they were subjected to offensive race and sex-biased comments, groping, and physical intimidation from two of the customer’s male employees. Although the women complained to their branch manager, no action was taken. When the two women took it further and made multiple complaints to Labor Ready about the harassment and their branch manager’s inaction, they were retaliated against by being denied work assignments and, ultimately, they were fired for their complaints.


EEOC Philadelphia Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, “Temporary workers are among the most vulnerable workers in our economy, and the staffing industry must recognize that it has a clear, non-delegable duty under Title VII to protect workers placed at customer work sites from harassment and other forms of discrimination. The staffing industry owes a duty of care to its workers, not deference to its customers. We are pleased that Labor Ready cooperated with EEOC to settle this matter with decree terms intended to protect Labor Ready’s employees.”


In addition to the $72,500 payment, Labor Ready was also required to take additional action as part of the settlement. Those actions included revising their training processes, auditing their harassment investigations and proposed actions based on those investigations, reporting to EEOC about future harassment complaints, and more.



As we try to wrap our heads around why this is still happening in 2017, keep in mind there are things we can all do to limit and eventually negate these unnecessary and demeaning actions from happening completely. We need to adopt—and convince the companies we work for to adopt—clear sexual harassment policies. We also need to monitor our workplaces and take complaints seriously, but most important, we need to educate our employees, supervisors, and managers. With proper training, everyone will better understand what they should look for and what actions to take should they be caught in any part of a sexual harassment situation like the one at Labor Ready.



FirstNet Learning offers online training programs on sexual harassment prevention that can be taken at your (or your staff’s) convenience. For those in California, we even offer a more extensive training to meet the 2-hour training requirement set forth by CA State Bill AB 1825. If you’d like more information on how our courses can help prevent sexual harassment in your workforce or how to set your employees up for success with online training, you can contact us, schedule a demo, or call 888-948-4949. With courses like these and others so readily available from FirstNet, there is no reason we can’t end sexual harassment for good.


What is your organization currently doing to proactively prevent sexual harassment amongst their workforce?

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