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Workplace harassment — Pennsylvania

Harassment in the workplace is one of the more costly issues facing employers today. A U.S. Supreme Court case has made it a virtual necessity for an employer to develop and distribute a strong and comprehensive harassment policy to its employees. More recent decisions also suggest the importance of ongoing training to refresh employee familiarity with this subject area. While this chapter focuses primarily on sexual harassment employers should be aware that courts have recognized harassment claims based upon other protected classes such as race, disability, national origin and age.  

Employers should adopt the approach of prohibiting all inappropriate conduct even if it does not rise to the level of unlawful harassment. Normally, in cases of an alleged hostile work environment, an employee must show severe or pervasive conduct to recover damages from the employer. If an employee complains before the offensive conduct reaches this threshold, the company would be prudent to impose discipline at the time of the conduct is first reported.

In most cases it may be appropriate to request that employees involved in an internal complaint investigation keep their participation in the investigation confidential, at least for a short period of time while an investigation is being conducted; but overly broad...

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