Patron Sexual Harrassment
Q: We have a male patron in his mid twenties who is becoming more and more of
a problem. He has been making inappropriate comments to female patrons
such as telling them they are pretty or asking if they are married.
I'm pretty sure I know how I'm going to handle it but I would like some
input from other librarians. Has anyone else had this problem? How did you
handle it? What are the legal ramifications?
A: Sexual harassment is illegal. The legal ramifications of not protecting your library patrons from unwanted comments is probably greater than the legal ramifications of perhaps offending the problem patron. Here's what I would do: Call my City Attorney. He or she can help you know what your legal rights and responsibilities are and how to effectively enforce them. Reading between the lines of your message, it sounds as if the problem patron may be mentally handicapped. In that case, it is important that he know specifically the kind of comments that are unacceptable and what the penalty will be for continuing to make those comments. By the way, our library has a policy and has had workshops on the topic of sexual harassment. There is some good information out there but we were advised to have our policies reviewed by our City Attorney.
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