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Preventing sexual harassment among employees is important for any employer. Have a clear sexual harassment policy in place, including a way for victims to report any problems in a safe, confidential manner. Provide anti-harassment training that educates employees about what sexual harassment is and how to recognize it. These measures can help prevent a potential court case in the future.
Developing Clear Policies
To avoid employer liability, it’s a good idea to have a no-tolerance policy concerning sexual harassment. A sexual harassment policy should include a definition of sexual harassment, how employees can report it and a description of disciplinary procedures. Make sure that your policy is communicated to all employees. Make it clear that the policies apply to all employees, regardless of that person’s rank within the company. If you are not sure where to start, there are many model sexual harassment policies available that you can tailor to fit your company’s needs. It’s a good idea to put the policy in writing and distribute it to everyone within the company.
It’s important to educate employees about what sexual harassment includes and what an employee should do if they are a victim. Sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances and requests for sexual favors, and in some cases it can also include offensive joking. Make it clear that anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment. Women report being victims of sexual harassment more frequently. but men sometimes report being sexually harassed as well. Sexual harassment can include both verbal and non-verbal behavior. Legally, a court will look at whether a reasonable person would feel offended. Not all employees will be offended by the same conduct. A key factor in sexual harassment is whether or not the behavior is unwelcome.
Consistency is important when enforcing an anti-harassment policy. Create a system for reporting that allows employees to feel safe when communicating their concerns. Treat any incident as if it could become a court case in the future, and document any action taken in resolving the problem. Employers should try to be as objective as possible without questioning the person making a report based on their personality or reputation. Quickly investigate any problems that are reported and discipline any employee found to have committed harassment. If no disciplinary action is taken, note the reasons why. If you need assistance as an employer or an employee with a sexual harassment claim contact our employment lawyers.