Employee Rejects Employer’s Harassment Remedies

By James Hatch

Jun. 15, 2007

Susan Baldwin, a marketing representative for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, claimed her supervisor, Scott Head, used profanity on almost a daily basis, called women “babes” and “bitches” and referred to marketing representatives in vulgar terms. Head also propositioned her on two occasions and played with his zipper in front of her.

Several months later, following Baldwin’s first complaint to the company’s human resources department, Blue Cross investigated and interviewed Head and other employees, none of whom corroborated Baldwin’s allegations, but which confirmed that Head had used profanity. The company did offer to hire an industrial psychologist to assist Baldwin and Head with their interactions, and when Baldwin indicated that she could not work with Head, she was offered a transfer, which she rejected.

In affirming summary judgment for the employer, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta held that “the complainant does not get to choose the remedy,” and she refused to take advantage of the reasonable corrective measures offered by the company. Baldwin failed to report her allegations promptly, as required by her employer’s anti-discrimination policy, and refused to accept a counseling plan or a transfer from the Huntsville office to one in Birmingham, 100 miles away.Baldwin v. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, 11th Cir., No. 05-15619 (3/19/07).

     Impact: Employer policies should afford employees multiple avenues for employees to complain about harassment and discrimination issues. It is equally important that employers promptly investigate such complaints and respond with appropriate remedial actions as warranted.

Workforce Management, May 21, 2007, p. 12Subscribe Now!

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