Sexual Harassment Outside of the Workplace

(Post by Rick Dacri, September 25, 2015)

UnknownThe issue of sexual harassment just won’t go away. Most employers work hard to make sure that they develop a workplace culture of respect, where issues of harassment are not tolerated. But it is hard enough to constantly monitor behaviors in the workplace. Do you also have to scrutinize your employees actions outside? This is a question I frequently get from clients and unfortunately, the answers is often “maybe.”

The law may apply to harassment that occurs between co-workers that takes place outside the workplace. When the conduct complained of occurs outside of the workplace, consider the following factors in assessing whether the conduct constitutes sexual harassment:

  1. Whether the event at which the conduct occurred is linked to the workplace in any way, such as at an employer-sponsored function;
  2. Whether the conduct occurred during work hours;
  3. The severity of the alleged outside-of-work conduct;
  4. The work relationship of the complainant and alleged harasser, which includes whether the alleged harasser is a supervisor and whether the alleged harasser and complainant come into contact with one another on the job;
  5. Whether the conduct adversely affected the terms and conditions of the complainant’s employment or impacted the complainant’s work environment.

If you become aware of a situation or if a complaint is presented, take it seriously. Listen to the complainant. Evaluate the situation. Contact the Dacri HR HelpLine or your attorney to determine your next steps. Just because the actions took place outside of work, does not mean the harassment did not occur. And remember, if it is determined to be harassment or not, the impact of the situation is sure to bleed into your workplace, impacting your employees, productivity and employee relations.

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