There is a fine line between being friendly in the workplace and activities that are considered inappropriate. All employees should be educated on how to behave, even those who hold high ranking positions. A woman who worked for a Florida fire department says that she became fed up with the sexual harassment she was forced to endure by the chief of personnel.
According to her complaint, the chief of personnel would try to kiss her, grab her hand and engage in other inappropriate touching. The woman kept a log of the incidents, which apparently went on for an extended period of time. She claims the man was nicknamed "Uncle Touchy" and says that the way that she was treated made her not even feel like a person.
During the investigation, other employees were asked about the man's behavior and if similar situations had happened to them. One of the women questioned said that he tried to give her back rubs and made her feel awkward. Another woman said that she felt awkward when he tried to hug her and massage her back. The man was also referred to as creepy by some of the female fire fighters.
The personnel chief said that he was only trying to be friendly and make people comfortable and had never heard anyone describe him the way that the women did during the investigation. He resigned from his position because of the allegations, which subsequently ended the sexual harassment investigation. The plaintiff also left her position due to an on-the-job disability. In response to the allegations, the chief of the Florida fire department said that he is committed to having an environment that is free from hostility and discrimination. The law also provides the opportunity to seek financial redress and other relief when instances of sexual harassment in the workplace are documented by appropriate proof in a civil court.
Source: wtsp.com, "Tampa Fire Rescue under heat for harrassment", Mike Deeson, March 27, 2015