It is difficult for Employers to determine what to do in the face of a complaint of sexual harassment. Two new cases Valentine v. City of Chicago, 452 F.3d 670 (7th Cir. 2006) and Bombaci v. Journal Community Pub Group Inc., 482 F.3d 979 (7th Cir. 2007).
The Seventh Circuit in Valentine, held that an employee that tells her immediate supervisor that a co-worker is “aggravating her, being rude, and putting his hands on her” was sufficient to put the employer on notice of the potential harassment. In Bombaci, the Seventh Circuit held that the victim of the harassment should contact the designated “point person” if there is one and the employer at a minimum is required to contact the victim to avoid liability for co-worker harassment.
Based on these recent cases, Employers and Employees can ensure a safe working enviornment by taking appropriate reporting and investigative steps. Employees should fulfil their role by contacting a designated “point person” appointed by the Employer. Employer’s should fulfil their role by investigating and following up with the victim to ferret out the harasser and undertaking the appropriate remedial action.