Bruce’s Summary: Although this case was held in a federal court outside of California, the facts speak for themselves with the author focusing on the use of good HR practices critical in providing a prompt and appropriate investigation of a sexual harassment complaint and thereby providing their employer a viable defense to the allegations.
As with any issue raised under the HR umbrella, following basic “blocking and tackling protocol,” focusing on the alleged issues in a logical order and determining the appropriate action that would be reasonably calculated to end the harassment and/or other allegations can protect all concerned.
One critical area the court found, as outlined by the author, was that the “store manager” was not a supervisor because he did not have the authority to “fire, demote, promote, or transfer employees,” and thereby only had the “ability to direct a coworker’s labor.”
As the HR landscape continues to change, it is critical for HR to continue to build with their management teams a partnership in understanding the legal repercussions of not having the right people in the right positions. What’s the possibility of less time, effort, energy and costs having been spent if the right title had been in place in the initial stage of the investigation?
This is a great case for HR to use as an example to share with their management teams in understanding the new exempt/non-exempt position requirements emerging. This one change can have a huge negative/positive effect on their organizations because of the highly charged emotion of this on both management and the individuals who are going to be affected. It is critical for HR to get a handle on this subject as early as possible and start engaging management and providing tools to help with the transition because of the potential high level of resistance this is going to bring. Good article and overview. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.”