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New Staff Are Susceptible To Harassment: Steps Family Employers Can Take

A woman who worked as a dog groomer for Real Housewife Lisa Vanderpump's Vanderpump Dog Foundation for two months is suing the organization for sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit the former groomer alleges that "not a day went by" that her manager did not comment on her "body, her sexual preference, or his sexual prowess." The manager allegedly told the woman that he "didn't know how her girlfriend could stand to be with her because she had no ass" and that he could "turn her straight."

The former groomer alleges that she complained about the harassment to her manager's superior. However, she did not think that any disciplinary action was taken.

The groomer alleges that she resigned in July 2019 because of the "intolerable working conditions" created by her manager and his superiors. She is seeking damages. Chelsea Hirsh "Lisa Vanderpump's dog foundation is being sued for sexual harassment" (Jan. 30, 2020).

Commentary and Checklist

Make sure your managerial staff members respect everyone and realize the anti-harassment policies and laws apply to every staff member, even workers new to the workplace or the workforce. New, inexperienced staff can be easy targets for harassers, so extra training and vigilant observation can help protect them in the family workplace.

Closely monitor how managers and others treat new staff members for any signs of harassment. When you hire new staff, let them know that they can come to you with any concerns. Check in with them regularly during their first weeks on the job to ask if they are having any issues.

Train all managers and supervisors to help avoid any type of inappropriate behavior, including actions like making off-color jokes or physical touching. Teach staff members that appropriate, professional behavior is essential when working with new hires, who may be uncomfortable simply being in a new workplace.

Consider these additional tips to help protect staff, including new hires, from harassment:

·      Treat all staff with professionalism and respect, no matter how long they have been with the organization.

·      Provide orientation training to all new hires on your policies regarding discrimination, harassment, and other wrongdoing, and distribute a copy of your handbook to all staff.

·      Make sure new staff members know how to report wrongdoing and understand the importance of doing so. Provide a third-party reporting mechanism so that staff can report to someone other than a manager.       

·      Provide additional anti-harassment training to managers and make sure they understand that committing harassment may lead to termination and legal action.

·      If possible, be present yourself or have two managers present for the first few shifts after hire, to help make sure new staff members are not victimized by one manager.

·      Create a culture of communication in the organization in which all staff, including new hires, feel comfortable talking to you or a manager about any concerns they have or inappropriate behavior they experience or witness.

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