Office Romance and the Tight Rope of Sexual Harassment

As the lawyers for employers, especially Franchisors and Franchisees navigating the area of office romances is still a difficult area to traverse. Traversing the tight rope of sexual harassment involves a pro-active approach by Employers.

NB Lawyers was recently involved in a case where a manager made sexually explicit remarks to a subordinate. Even when the Employee made it very clear to the manager that this was unwelcome conduct he continued to make the remarks which were of a sexual nature.

When confronted with the allegations the manager attempted to pass all his comments off as a “joke”.

Putting aside the obvious work related power imbalance between the manager and Employee whether or not the comments were continual over one night and was clearly unwelcome by the Employee. The Employee made a complaint to the Employer.

There were potential sexual harassment and workplace bullying claims and even a Workcover damages claim that could be made by the Employee, putting the Employer at risk of legal liability.

NB Lawyers suggest taking a few steps to reduce liability:

  • Prepare a Sexual Harassment and Workplace Bullying policy;
  • Provide Employees with training on Sexual Harassment and Workplace Bullying;
  • Thoroughly investigate any claims of sexual harassment; and
  • Ensure Employees are aware of appropriate conduct in the workplace.

For a limited time, NB Lawyers are offering a legal consultation to all Employers.

Written by
Jonathan Mamaril
Principal & Director, NB Lawyers – the Lawyers for Employers
07 3876 5111
[email protected]