Most employers are keenly cognizant of the possibility of female employees complaining about male harassment. Same-sex harassment, however, is just as real a possibility, as the 6th Circuit reminded us yesterday. When a male employee at a Tennessee box maker charged that his male co-worker repeatedly touched him on the buttocks, a jury awarded him $300,000 and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found the jury’s award reasonable. The appeals court also reminded employers that “harassment involving an element of physical invasion is more severe than harassing comments alone.” Cases such as this one prompt us all to ensure that we have updated non-harassment policies and prompt us to conduct training with a competent trainer to increase management’s awareness of issues and the proper response to internal complaints.
Smith v. Rock-Tenn Servs., Inc., 2016 BL 36684, 6th Cir., No. 15-5534, Feb. 10, 2016.