I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.
Your friend was subjected to one harassing comment by the coworker, and she did the right thing in reporting it. The employer did the right thing, too, by immediately taking action against the offending employee. I wish more employers took sexual harassment so seriously. I understand why your friend was uncomfortable following the meeting with the new employees. I expect the employer was trying to undo any damage to your friend's reputation when it held the meeting, though it may have been a poor choice of methods.
The clearest form of sexual harassment is quid pro quo harassment. “Quid pro quo” is Latin for “what for what,” referring to an exchange of one thing for another. In employment discrimination law, “quid pro quo” refers to situations where an employee has to submit to unwelcome sexual advances in order to keep a job or advance on the job. It can refer to requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances or propositions.
Another kind of sexual harassment is environmental harassment. Environmental harassment can include verbal conduct, slurs, derogatory comments, comments or questions about a person's body, appearance, or sexual activity. Environmental harassment can also include offensive gestures, sexually suggestive eye contact or looks, and derogatory or graphic posters, cartoons or drawings.
Environmental harassment is unlawful when the unwelcome sexual conduct is either severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive environment. Severe conduct would include most physical contact and many types of threatening, vulgar or degrading conduct. Pervasive conduct is widespread, happens frequently and/or in many situations. One offensive statement is not pervasive, but the same comment made over and over again may be pervasive.
Federal law prohibits workplace sexual harassment. The federal prohibition is in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e–17.
Work-related sexual harassment can take place at the workplace or in any other location, as long as it arises from the employment relationship.
Either men or women can engage in sexual harassment, and the conduct can be directed against an employee of the opposite sex or of the same sex. However, sexual harassment does not have to be directed at anyone in particular if it is widespread throughout the workplace.
The same laws also protect individuals who complain about or report sexual harassment. It is unlawful to retaliate against an individual who makes this kind of complaint or report.
For more information on the federal law prohibiting sexual harassment, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) web site at www.eeoc.gov.
To know whether your friend was being unlawfully retaliated against with respect to being sent home, we would need to know the call center's policies and practices about employees who are last to arrive, or who arrive if the other computers are taken. By the way, in some states, and in some circumstances, employees are entitled to show up pay if they arrive at work and are sent home immediately. Your friend should follow up with Arizona's wage and hour enforcement agency to find out if this is true in your state.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
I am not sure I follow the last two sentences of your description. As to your overarching concern, it sounds as though the employer appropriately addressed your friend's harassment complaint; there was a timely, meaningful investigation and the subject was separated. And I see no (legal) problem with the subsequent meeting to reinforce that your friend was a solid performer--assuming the word "boobs" was not used by HR or management. In the abundance of caution, however, your friend should consult with an employment lawyer licensed in your state if she believes that she was subjected to a hostile work environment of a sexual nature.
What needs to be discussed with an attorney is your friend's treatment over the last two days. In my opinion, keeping her out to avoid another similar incident (if that's what happened) is discrimination.