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Take steps to keep harassment from taking hold at the dealership

November 17, 2017
It’s a tough time to take in the news with the kiddies, what with harassment claims filling newspaper pages and television news programs. But dealerships should recognize that the issue does not end with the political and entertainment industries.
Neither does sexual harassment have a place at a dealership.
Sexual harassment can take many forms and includes unwelcome advances, request for sexual favors, and other related conduct. It also is deemed to be harassment if submission to such conduct is made a term of employment, behavior known as "quid pro quo" harassment.
Hostile environments can be created by managers and supervisors, co-workers, and even non-employees. Consider an outside trainer who regularly visits a dealership to instruct employees, including women, on the use of an F&I menu system. In the course of the training, the male trainer fills his lecture with sexually degrading comments directed towards women.
A situation like that should be brought to the immediate attention of dealership management or the human resources department, to avoid potential liability.
"Intolerable working conditions" that would compel a reasonable person to quit can also be a form of harassment. Examples of such behavior include having sexually suggestive calendars or viewing porn on company computers. It’s not a defense that the calendar or pictures are kept at an employee’s desk or that the computer porn can only be accessed with an employee’s password.
Even playing sexually-charged music could be deemed intolerable by some, and should be avoided. Such charges cannot be defended by claiming the conduct occurred in the privacy of an alleged offender’s own office or workplace at the dealership.
Dealership personnel should be trained to treat every co-worker, subordinate, vendor, and customer with respect and dignity. That will avoid even the appearance of sexual harassment and enhance the dealership’s reputation for professionalism and excellence.
Training should stress that if any employee becomes aware of, or even suspects, any form of sexual harassment at the dealership, that behavior should be reported immediately to management.