Andrew Gruber Discusses the Evolution of Workplace Harassment Claims With the Indiana Lawyer
BGD partner Andrew Gruber discussed the evolution of workplace harassment claims with The Indiana Lawyer recently. Despite years of preventative training and a recent decline in claims, workplace harassment remains a pervasive problem, with thousands of lawsuits filed annually. Even thirty years after the Supreme Court ruled sexual harassment as a violation of Title VII, workplace harassment has nevertheless endured, with the nature of what constitutes a claim changing over time according to the publication.
“Conduct that may have been acceptable…10 years ago simply isn’t today,” Gruber explained. “A good example would be a female employee coming back from maternity leave and the manager believing she simply would not have the desire to continue at the same level of work, because she has a kid at home and we all know how that puts stress on people.”
Gruber also told the publication that, for years, BGD has advised employees in workplace-sponsored training, “if in doubt, don’t.” But today’s advice needs to be more nuanced. At the same time, he said statements that might have seemed out of bounds in earlier times may be less likely to prompt complaints in workplaces where water cooler chat may involve workers speaking openly about their personal lives or frank sexual talk about a pop culture figure, for example.
Despite its continued existence, lawyers and workplaces are working to prevent harassment and create a positive work environment for all. Although harassment may never be completely eliminated, companies seem, for the most part, to be buying in to the idea of a workplace free of discrimination, which is ultimately a positive change for both employers and employees. According to the publication, preventative measures should be more aggressive, with regular training of employers and employees in ways in which to avoid harassment in the modern workplace.