Allegations of sexual harassment frequently depend on private conversations between two people and as such are difficult to verify. Moreover, what some find offensive others would dismiss as harmless banter.
No employer wants to depend on judgments that are so inherently difficult to make. On the other hand, in the past, the same daunting difficulty of deciding who was telling the truth often meant that employees with legitimate grievances had reason not to complain. Who would come forward with embarrassing tales of misconduct by respected business owners, risking the likelihood that the allegations might not be believed?
The late Reverend Billy Graham recognized early in his ministry that in his personal life he had to be above reproach. He made it a rule – it is still called “the Billy Graham Rule” – never to meet, travel, or eat alone with a woman other than his wife.
If men and women adhered to what were formerly accepted sexual mores, interactions in the workplace would be void of sexual content and would not require the law to sort out. That time, however, has long since passed. Recent events have caused a spike in the number of allegations of sexual harassment, and can be expected to have a profound impact on the credibility of allegations of workplace misconduct. Employers do not want to be judged unfairly; employees do not want to be sexually harassed. The inevitable tensions between those two valid positions appear unlikely to abate.
Thoughtful employers do not wait to react to employee claims. Preparation is a key component through structure, culture, training, and enforcement. An experienced business lawyer can help an employer build a workplace based on trust and respect.
For more information on how our Business Law team might help you, call us at (704) 892-1612. We are here to help.
Author: Jesse Jones, Attorney
The McIntosh Law Firm, P.C.