As an employer, sexual harassment allegations can be difficult to stomach. You never intended to treat your employees inappropriately. You understand the law, but it’s more than that. You value them as people. It’s distressing for you to think that one of those employees felt like you were intentionally harassing them.
The problem could be that comments you made were simply misinterpreted. This is a tricky subject, and you know that people don’t always see things the same way. Here are a few different ways that this can happen.
You were just trying to bring humor into the workplace
You know that the workplace can get to be a serious place, and that’s good at times, but you also know that company morale can help with production. You want people to enjoy themselves, and humor is an easy way to lighten the mood. Unfortunately, if someone does not share your sense of humor, they could find the things that you say insensitive. That may not have been your intention at all, but it could be taken that way.
You were just trying to get to know your employees
In some cases, people look for subtext that doesn’t exist. Maybe you asked a female employee about her dating life. You didn’t mean anything by it. You just knew she wasn’t married from her file, and you were trying to get to know her. If she took that as a subtle way of you asking her out, though, she could feel insulted.
A new employee brought a new viewpoint
If the allegations come from a new employee, the issue could be that they have a different viewpoint than the rest of your staff. Maybe you have made jokes and comments along these lines for decades. Your employees have never cared. That new employee may have a problem with it, though, that you never anticipated. Again, you didn’t want to offend them, but you just didn’t know that you were.
If you’re facing allegations of sexual harassment for any of these reasons, just make sure you understand your legal options.