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Diana Retuerto worked in the office of Berea Moving & Storage. She claimed that the company’s owner, Willard Melton, made “verbal advances” towards her, including comments about dreams he was having about her, her physical appearance, and questions about her makeup and hair. Over time, these advances escalated to professions of love, statements about his constant need for sex, and whispers in her ear that he could not stop thinking about her. He also allegedly would rub up against her and crawl under her desk. After Retuerto reached her limit, she quit and sued for sexual harassment. In Retuerto v. Berea Moving & Storage, the Ohio appellate court had little trouble concluding that the trial court overstepped by dismissing Retuerto’s sexual harassment claim. Of particular note is the court’s comments about the company’s lack of prompt corrective action after it learned of the harassment.
At the time Retuerto reported Melton’s behavior to her supervisor [Hawthorn] in 2010, Retuerto had not yet received an employee handbook or attended sexual harassment training. After her initial complaint to Hawthorn, Hawthorn spoke to Melton and Melton apologized to Retuerto. There is no evidence that any disciplinary action was taken against Melton. After Retuerto made additional claims in 2012, there is no evidence that Berea Moving conducted an investigation into the matter or took any disciplinary action against Melton.…
Retuerto also averred that Hawthorn had knowledge of Melton’s ongoing behavior. Hawthorn observed and heard some of Melton’s behavior and told Retuerto that Melton was going through a “mid-life crisis.”
Obviously, condoning acts of sexual harassment as a “mid-life crisis” is a horrible idea. So, that’s what you shouldn’t do in response to a harassment complaint. What should you do?
And, please, please, please, make sure that your employee handbooks have an anti-harassment policy, and that you are training your employees on it.
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