The largest sexual harassment award ever was just won by a former female employee of Aaron’s Inc. A St. Louise federal jury found the company guiltyof harassing a single plaintiff and awarded her “$15 million in compensatory and $80 million in punitive damages.”
This huge settlement is just after the Kansas City case in which UBS Financial Services was found guilty of sexual harassment and the victim was awarded $10.6 million. With all this money being doled out to victims, one would think that companies would be more adamant in driving home the issue of sexual harassment and how to avoid it.
In the case of Aaron’s Inc, the plaintiff alleged that a male manager “hit her in the head with his penis.” Definitely an action that could have been prevented as usually penises are kept under wraps during work hours thanks to pants.
Most experts agree that sexual harassment can truly become a thing of the past through something as simple as open communication within the workplace. Communication, setting boundaries and making sure all employees are aware of what constitutes sexual harassment will not only avert further victims, but will keep companies from having to shell out millions for, in some cases, the actions of just one individual.
While both Aaron’s Inc and UBS Financial are both adamant in their policies on sexual harassment, as most companies are at this point, it still didn’t stop one person from acting out. But one bad apple shouldn’t ruin the whole bushel. Dialogue and education – that’s where the core is in trying to stop any further issues. And since what’s regarded as sexual harassment can sometimes be subjective depending on the people involved, Victoria Pynchon suggests that women speak up about their level of discomfort, so there are no mysteries and everything is out in the open.
With most things, there are prevention methods, and if all employees and managers are aware of these methods, companies can hold onto their cash.