An employee who is hugged by another colleague for many years, then the two fall out and the employee makes a complaint of sexual harassment. In this example, by applying 'reasonable person standard' a hypothetically reasonable person would not interpret the hugging as sexual harassment because they had been hugged, and had welcomed and reciprocated the hugging, for many years without ever complaining about it. The fact that the employee and the colleague have fallen out with each other would be deemed as the basis for the allegation, rather than a genuine grievance of sexual harassment.
Another example could be an employee is hugged by a boss. The employee does not like to be hugged and has not welcomed being hugged and consequently makes an allegation of sexual harassment. By applying 'reasonable person standard' it would make sense that a reasonable person would equally find the situation of being hugged by a boss as wholly inappropriate and sexually harassing. Therefore the employee would be deemed a victim of sexual harassment.
In summary, by applying the same 'reasonable person standard' of the courtroom to an allegation of workplace sexual harassment, companies can make decisions about the next steps needed to deal with the allegation with confidence. It is an excellent tool in being able to determine whether the allegation is indeed reasonable, and serves as an accurate measure of whether the allegation has the potential to go out of the workplace and into a courtroom. Equally it removes the inherent bias and opinions managers might have against the person making the allegation, and asks everyone involved to determine whether hypothetically speaking the allegation of sexual harassment would be made by any other reasonable person. If the answer is yes, then employers have no choice but to act and act swiftly.
If you or your place of work require further advice regarding 'reasonable person standard' then head over to www.EasyLlama.com for more information. EasyLlama is a modern online training platform providing organizations and companies with world leading education, advice and support on how to combat workplace sexual harassment.
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