Is there such a thing as borderline sexual harassment?

When Millie Cochran, a clerical employee in the maintenance department, irately charged Assistant Supervisor Gerard Anker with sexual harassment, an investigation was launched.
By Raymond Dreyfack May 1, 1998

When Millie Cochran, a clerical employee in the maintenance department, irately charged Assistant Supervisor Gerard Anker with sexual harassment, an investigation was launched.

The probe revealed that Cochran had dated Anker on one occasion, after which she decided she wanted nothing more to do with him. This decision apparently conflicted with Anker’s plans and desires. She claimed that one time in the stock room, he grabbed her from behind and started to fondle her. Another time he kissed her, declared they were meant for each other, and tried to persuade her to go to a motel with him. Both times, Cochran made it clear that his advances were unwelcome, the last time with a sharp slap on his face.

Following the investigation, Anker received an official reprimand and was transferred to another department.

This action didn’t satisfy Cochran. “Transfer is no punishment at all,” she said. “Sexual harassment is clear grounds for dismissal.”

“That’s management’s decision to make,” Maintenance Supervisor Al Fowler replied.

“That’s all you’re going to do about it? In that case, I’m planning to sue.”

Question : If Cochran follows through with her threat, do you think she will win?

Kramer’s decision: “Anker’s transfer and reprimand are adequate response in this case,” Plant Engineer Ted Kramer ruled. “For sexual harassment to constitute grounds for dismissal, it must be sufficiently frequent and severe as to alter working conditions unfavorably, create a hostile work environment, adversely affect the employee’s work performance, or otherwise cause her harm or injury. While I will agree that Anker’s action is reprehensible, I think the harassment falls short of that in this case.”

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