IHOP Did Not Do Enough To Educate Workers About Sexual Harassment Policy

Savvy employers know that two things help protect them against harassment claims: (1) a written policy against sexual harassment and discrimination; and (2) an internal complaint procedure for employees to voice any potential violations of the policy. If, however, those policies are not followed in practice, or if employees are not trained how to utilize the internal complaint procedure, employers may find themselves unprotected.

In EEOC v. Management Hospitality of Racine d/b/a International House of Pancakes, et. al, former employees were awarded more than $100,000 as a result of the sexual harassment they asserted against their manager. Although IHOP had a policy against sexual harassment and had trained employees on the policy, the 7th Circuit upheld the jury award because of the type of employees working at IHOP. As the court explained, “what is reasonable depends on the employment circumstances and therefore, among other things, on the capabilities of the class of employees in question… moreover, the policy must not only be reasonably effective on paper, but also reasonably effective in practice.”

Taking pro-active steps to assess your employees and to evaluate what is working within your organization can save you from a costly mistake.