Nancy was a pretty, vivacious brunette who had recently moved from another division to the marketing department at a large company. Chuck was a long-term temporary employee who had been employed as a marketing director for several months. He noticed Nancy’s arrival and soon made a habit of stopping by her cubicle to chat. At first Nancy thought Chuck was merely being welcoming, but after awhile as the talks intensified in length and frequency and the questions became more personal, Nancy realized that she had an uncomfortable situation on her hands-and soon the agency that had placed Chuck would learn that they could have a potential staff insurance claim on their hands.
Some people fail to understand when “no” means “no”
Chuck continued to engage Nancy in conversation, and finally worked up his nerve to ask her out on a date. When Nancy politely declined going out for drinks and tried to steer the interaction toward a purely professional footing, Chuck failed to respect the boundaries she was trying to put in place, even going so far as to suggest that he could offer Nancy some plum assignments if she were to “collaborate” with him outside the office. He kept approaching Nancy for a lunch or dinner date-in the hallway, in the pantry, on the way to the cafeteria-to the point where Nancy became so uncomfortable in the workplace, she sought the assistance of both her manager and the company’s human resources department to put pressure on Chuck to leave her alone. By this time, though, she was so upset and angry at what she felt had become sexual harassment, she also sought the advice of an attorney, who believed Nancy had a strong case.
The management and the human resources department were upset to hear about the treatment of one of their staff, as well as the possibility that a lawsuit was in the wings. They immediately contacted the agency which represented Chuck and let them know that they had a sensitive situation to deal with and, by the way, the company was not interested in renewing Chuck’s (or the employment firm’s) contract.
Professional advice pays off
Fortunately, the employment firm had followed the advice of its professional insurance agent, who had recommended a comprehensive staff insurance program. The firm’s policy offered a host of coverage, including protection from the liability arising from the wrongful acts of temporary personnel it had placed with the company-in this case, Chuck, the would-be Lothario.
Consult your agent for guidance on the right policies for your organization. Also, provide sexual harassment training to all employees-direct hires and temporary staff alike-so they can recognize and halt behaviors that they may not realize are inappropriate, and ensure everyone is aware they should feel free to report any such behavior without fear of retaliation.