Harassment: A 5 Step Plan for Hotel Managers
By John Mavros Attorney at Law, Partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLP | April 14, 2019
Hotel owners and operators place great trust in their managers because managers are in the trenches everyday fielding guest complaints, overseeing operations, and supervising employees. Because of this role, managers are often in the best position to both prevent harassment in the workplace from occurring and also to prevent a harassment lawsuit.
Moreover, in many states, not only can managers be held personally liable for claims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, their employer can be held strictly liable for the actions and inactions of their managers as well. This article outlines five key steps for managers to stay on the forefront of the #MeToo movement: (1) know the policy; (2) look for warning signs; (3) remember managers are always leaders; (4) handle complaints; and (5) contact human resources.
1. Know the Policy
The first step to effectively enforcing an anti-harassment, discrimination, and retaliation policy is simply to know the policy. A well-crafted anti-harassment policy will have a zero tolerance policy against all forms of unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation on the basis of a protected category. While protected categories vary by state, federal law specifically protects individuals from harassment, discrimination, and retaliation on the basis of race, color, religion/religious creed, national origin, gender/sex (includes pregnancy, child birth, breast feeding, and related medical conditions), age (if 40 or above), disability (mental/physical), protected medical conditions, veteran status, family leave, and citizenship status.
Many other states also protect sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The term "zero tolerance" should not be taken lightly and managers must be prepared to spot harassment, and act swiftly and appropriately to address it.
While an anti-harassment policy should list examples of prohibited conduct, such as unwanted sexual advances, groping, kissing, hugging, touching, blocking movement, inappropriate verbal, graphic, or physical conduct, jokes based on a protected activity, racial slurs and epithets, mocking another's religious beliefs, or sending or posting harassing messages or images et cetera, the list is not exhaustive.