Cracker Barrel just settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with the EEOC. (Click here to read article) The allegations surrounding this claim were that the General Manager, Managers and male employees, at the Cedar Bluff, Tennessee Cracker Barrel, subjected female employees to lewd comments and sexual jokes. The employees alleged they reported their complaints to management and an employee hot line and no investigation was forthcoming.
The settlement requires Cracker Barrel to do the following:
1. Pay the victims $225,000;
2. Modify its sexual harassment and investigation policies; and
3. Perform the following for the next three (3) years:
a. conduct annual training on issues of sexual harassment and retaliation;
b. maintain of log of and report any claims of sexual harassment; and
c. post its policy on sexual harassment and that it will investigate anonymous complaints of harassment.
During tough economic times there is a tendency to avoid training on issues of harassment/discrimination in an effort to save money. This is the wrong approach to take. Training helps prevent lawsuits, stops you from paying attorneys, and allows your employees to focus on their jobs rather than have to do their jobs and participate in the litigation process.
Although training is key, please don’t overlook reviewing your handbook. Policies that are antiquated should be eliminated. If you don’t use or you don’t follow it, get rid of it. The same holds true for your forms. As one speaker said, “I’d rather have no documentation than bad documentation.” This hold true for forms. Forms are great, however, if your forms are never used they can become a liability. (see my previous posts on documentation)