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Sexual Harassment/sexual harrasment in a call center

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Question
Hi, I work in a call center for a very world famous company doing customer service over the phones. We get calls from perverts that would make your stomache turn, there's a dozen or so that are repeat callers, sometimes 15 times a say, I've gotten dozens of these calls and for the most part I take them in stride, however there were two particular callers this week that were so perverted that I have left feeling dirty and quite frankly violated! The policy is to tell these callers three times tgat they need to keep the call professional, then you can transfer the call to a supervisor. These men know this so they will  keep it justprofessional  enough to keep us on the phone. For some people ssaying this three times is no big deal, for people like me its a nightmare!!! I cannot describe how awful it is to be forced to converse with these people while they are obviously doing...what they are doing!! So my question , does there "tell them to be professional3 times" rule meet the standards of the law? Meaning do I have any recourse or is that policy enough to release them from liability? Because to be weather itsba customer or a coworker I believe they should protect us against this! ! Btw if it helps I'm in Colorado.

Answer
If you are a full time employee and the company has over 15 people employed, you are covered by EEOC regulations.  The company, regardless of its customer service resonsibilities such as a call center,  has to ensure that you are not discriminated or harassed on the job which includes verbal sexual abuse when performing your work.  The same holds true of you are a contractor and employed by the company as well.  There is no 3 strikes and you are out rule with the EEOC since one comment can be considered egregious.  This appears to be an internal company rule but that places you in a bad situation since it should be once and you are blocked or out of receiving customer service.  

You are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  Also I am sure that your state has a human relations commission that also protects you from this type of harassment.  What you should do is to file a complaint with your company in writing.  Let them write back to you with a response of whether they are going to investigate the complaint or not.  If they choose not to support you and investigate your charge, then you have two options.  You can file a charge with your state (recommended) commission or the EEOC.  When you file a complaint with a state commission, they typically cross file with the EEOC so you have two agencies supporting you.  They will investigate your complaint and your company will have to defend why they are not preventing this harassment.  Your supervisor is wrong stating they cannot do anything about the caller.  Every phone company has a blocking mechanism to block calls and they should at least block that call from coming into your system.  By doing nothing the company is facilitating the harassment and can be held liable.

I would check with the Colorado Department of Cilil Rights if this persists and your employer does not address this immediately.

http://cdn.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c=Page&childpagename=DORA-DCR/DORALayout&ci

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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