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Sexual Harassment/Sexual Harrasment Allegation

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Question
A male nurse complains to his unit manager that he is being sexually harassed by a coworker, a female nurse. The female nurse denies the charge. The female employee has relieved constantly excellent annual performance appraisals and has never been a "problem employee." The male employee has received a poor annual review and has been disciplined for chronic tardiness. He is on the verge of being terminated.
As a unit manager regarding to the above allegation what needs to be done and decided? The unit manager knows that if an allegation of sexual harassment is in play, an employee cannot be terminated or it appears to be a vindictive termination. How can the Unit manager deal with this appropriately and effectively?
Your reply will be highly appreciated.

Thank you,

Answer
Hi Tanha,

I apologize for the delay but there has been some problems with the website forwarding questions to the panel members.  I just received this today.

There are a few questions here before coming to a true recommendation. Is this the first charge of harassment the employee has brought against the other employee?  Does the complaintant have any witnesses to the harassment? Would a reasonable person consider this harassment to be creating a hostile working environment for the complainant?  

As a long time investigator, these are questions I would immediately ask the complainant.  However, it does not appear to have went to this stage of a true investigation.  The unit manager should take immediate steps:  Separate the complainant and respondent (person complained against) immediately.  It can be his or her choice of whom to move as it affects the hospital operations but this must be done.  Then the unit manager should contact your Human Resources or EEO Officer and hand off this complaint and should not under any circumstances do an investigation.  He or she could get some initial information, separate the parties, etc., but leave the investigation to the EEO or HR professionals.  

One has to remember that although credibility is,work performance is not a factor in the development of probable cause for the complaint.   The manager should continue with whatever progressive disciplinary policy the hospital or health system has in place and not treat anyone any different if there are proven violations or, for the good order and discipline of the hospital.  Even if there is an investigation underway, it is not retaliation for further discipline up to termination if the person accused still violates another provision of the disciplinary policy and is terminated.  Which is why it is important to immediately report this behavior to the EEO official of your health system.  

John

Sexual Harassment

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John Fuller

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I can answer nearly every question pertaining to prevention of sexual harassment, definitions of sexual harassment, workplace harassment inside and outside of the workplace, quid pro quo harassment, hostile working environment, reporting procedures and responsibilities, how to recognize and respond/report to sexually based inappropriate comments.

Experience

Diversity, EEO Officer and Investigator for Johns Hopkins Hospital EEO Compliance Manager for Fortune 300 Corporation Deputy Director for Equal Opportunity for Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute

Organizations
Board of Directors, National Council for Support of Disability Issues Board of Directors, Institute for MultiTrack Diplomacy

Publications
Guest expert on over 45 radio stations nationwide discussing the subject "Hot Buttons in the Workplace; sexual harassment" Do you know the limitations?

Education/Credentials
Doctor of Education Master of Science in Leadership & Business Ethics Master of Arts in Educaiton Florida and Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator Department of Defense Certified Mediator EEOC Certified Investigator

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