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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Jessica Schaaf

Professor M. Bojanski

Human Resources Mangament

9 September 2015

Case Study #1 – Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Any situation that involves a form of harassment is a difficult one to address. Human resources workers are tasked with the resolution of claims that are made in their place of work. Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; Sexual harassment creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment all according to the Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964.

As a high school student, I earned the position of an intern at a local bank. I was trained to work as a teller and maintained both the front desk area and a drive up window. Becoming acclimated to the banking environment was rather stressful, but my coworkers were quick to help me with each process. Banks are all relatively the same in their processes, so what set us apart as a bank was our customer service. Customer service and working with people is something that had always come naturally to me, but there was one customer in particular that really took everything for more than what it was worth. He often made comments about my eyes and jewelry which had only seemed a little overly friendly at first. I made sure to mention it to my coworkers and boss just because I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with his comments. I was surprised to hear that they all had similar experiences with this particular customer: one coworker told me about a time when he commented on how pretty her blouse looked, another talked about when he said he ‘liked the way her hair sat on her shoulders’ and my boss said he commented on the fact that she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. In spite of the things he had already said to them, they said they’d keep a lookout for me and if it persisted they would step in to help me gain control of the situation.

As expected, it seemed to progress from there; this customer began making comments about my chest and mentioning that my clothes should be more revealing to show off my body. He even went to the extent of asking me to come outside so he could tell me how beautiful I was. My boss thankfully was there and asked me to work with her cash drawer for a moment; she proceeded to tell the male customer “comments of that nature are unwelcomed and not tolerated” and if he was unable to change his behavior, he would be asked to take his business elsewhere. The customer apologized to her and said he didn’t mean anything by it, but my boss finished his transaction quietly and sent him on his way rather quickly. The next day he came through the drive through, was perfectly civil towards me, and apologized for his behavior.

I was beyond appreciative of the way my boss handled the situation; even though she knew she could lose a customer, she was adamant about telling him his behavior was unwelcomed.  If I had been the HR manager, I can’t say I’d do anything differently for this particular situation. However, when I mentioned that this customer’s behavior was off-putting and my coworkers responded with an ‘I know’ rather than an ‘Oh my, who knew’, it told me that the customer hadn’t been dealt with properly until my situation. As the HR manager, I would have called attention to his behavior as soon as the first incident occurred that made my coworkers feel uncomfortable, knowing that if I didn’t say something, the behavior could spiral out of control and possibly lead to a more invasive type of harassment. It would be important to mention that his behavior was unacceptable because it made my coworkers uncomfortable.



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