Few administrators realize their responsibility concerning sexual harassment happening outside of work.
When the harassment involves vendors, other employees, clients or customers, the employer may hold some liability for the situation.
Examples of harassment outside of work
Even if your handbook does not explicitly include language prohibiting harassment after work hours, it is wise to talk to your employees about possible situations that could lead to a claim of sexual harassment. Possible activities viewed as sexual harassment include:
- Unauthorized distribution or display of sexual animation or images
- Posting or sharing erotic or personal messages on social media sites
- Making sexual or romantic phones, emails or messages
- Unwanted physical contact
- Delivering or leaving romantic or sexual gifts
Stalking, monitoring or following are also harassment. The individual does not have to be salary or on the clock for the issue to turn into a sexual harassment claim, though a criminal report may also be appropriate in an instance of stalking or abuse.
Options under the law
The law does not have specific language on the time and place of sexual harassment incidents. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers unlaw acts to be those that create a work environment that is offensive, hostile or intimidating to reasonable people. Employees who are subject to harassment from a co-worker can make a valid claim that an act of harassment created a hostile work environment. It does not matter what time of day or location the act occurred since the individuals are coworkers and share a work environment.
Training your employees on harassment can go a long way in preventing unnecessary damage and claims. Stress the consequences of harassment regardless of whether the two parties were at work or not.