Do These 8 Steps To Prevent Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Sexual harassment is no joke. It’s not just an uncomfortable conversation or the occasional lewd remark that makes it into office gossip circles. It can be something much more serious, including unwanted sexual advances and verbal or physical intimidation in the workplace.

It is important to understand that it is never acceptable in the workplace, but it’s all too common. One study even found that one-third of women have experienced some form of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct at their job.

Businesses of all sizes can be exposed to a claim or lawsuit that relates to sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s important to understand what constitutes unlawful behavior and how it can be prevented. Here are 8 steps your business should take to prevent sexual harassment.

Train Supervisors On Recognizing And Preventing Sexual Harassment

Your managers and supervisors should be able to recognize sexual harassment and know how to take steps to stop it. They should understand that it isn’t just about touching. Education and training should cover all types of inappropriate behavior, whether it’s related to romance or not.

It also includes the appropriate ways to conduct business and how to avoid harassing behaviors and actions. If you have conducted specific training sessions, make sure your managers and supervisors go now and attend them, at least to refresh their knowledge. They should also know how to stand up for an employee who complains about sexual harassment as a third party.

Implement An Effective Anti-Sexual-Harassment policy

An anti-sexual harassment policy is very important in a company. It tells employees what kind of conduct is unacceptable and creates an awareness about inappropriate behavior. A company’s policy should cover the supplier, agents, consultants, temporary employees, and any other third parties that regularly come into your workplace or have contact with your employees. The policy must be a written document available to everyone who works for you as well as those who visit your business from time to time.

Ensure Employees Know How They Can Report Any Observed Or Experienced Instances Of Sexual Harassment

Employees should be encouraged to immediately report the inappropriate behavior they observe or experience themselves. Establish a reporting procedure that permits employees to do just that without fear of reprisal. This through may include providing information on sexual harassment laws and the company’s policy about it, giving examples of potentially problematic behaviors, and establishing an environment where employees feel comfortable in

Prohibit Retaliation Against Those Who ComplainAabout Or Participate In The Investigation Of Alleged Sexual Harassment Incidents

Retaliation against an individual who reports sexual harassment or participates in your investigation can result in yet more claims and lawsuits. Employees need to know that their participation will not lead to retaliation of any kind. You should also make sure employees don’t retaliate on their own after learning about alleged sexual harassment incidents. This is why it’s important to thoroughly investigate these claims. To do this, you should enlist the help of an experienced employment law attorney as soon as you receive a complaint.

Encourage Employees To Report Potentially Problematic Relationships

Be sure employees know how to report relationships in the workplace that may be inappropriate and might create a hostile work environment. Even if an employee thinks a relationship seems fine, it’s still good practice to encourage them to come forward and report it. This way you can avoid any unprofessional or potentially abusive behavior. Also,  make sure your employees know that an amorous relationship doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of harassment, but if it begins to negatively impact the work environment, then they should report it.

Develop Consistent Standards For Investigating Complaints And Follow Through With Disciplinary Action Where Appropriate

Your anti-harassment policy should include a standard procedure with defined steps for investigation and disciplinary action. Be sure everyone at your company knows what the consequences are for violating your sexual harassment policy. If you don’t, they may think it’s acceptable to engage in this behavior because there are few consequences other than scaring employees away from reporting incidents of sexual harassment. Additionally,  you should be careful to follow through with any disciplinary action that’s prescribed by your sexual harassment policy.

Ensure Employees Are Aware Of The Company’s Policy Regarding One-on-One, Personal Or Romantic Relationships

Make sure your managers and supervisors understand the policy regarding one-on-one relationships. This is especially important if a manager or supervisor finds him or herself in a romantic relationship with an employee. If you don’t have this type of policy, you should create it immediately to ensure these types of relationships are discouraged for obvious reasons. Make sure everyone understands it. If they don’t, they may find themselves in an uncomfortable situation with their co-workers or managers.

Manage Carefully Employees Who Have Engaged In Sexual Harassment Or Other Inappropriate Behaviors

Maintain a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment. This means any employee who has engaged in inappropriate behavior of this kind should be disciplined, up to and including termination. You should also monitor these employees closely or restrict their job duties if necessary so they don’t have the opportunity to engage in any unprofessional behavior again. It should also be clear to other employees that if they engage in this kind of behavior, they will face the same consequences. The best way to achieve the results you want is to take prompt action against anyone who violates your sexual harassment policy.

Continue To Educate Employees About Sexual Harassment And The Best Ways To Avoid It

Be sure your employees are up to date on the latest standards regarding sexual harassment. If you have a regular training program in place, go over this material with each new hire during their orientation or give refresher courses to other employees on an ongoing basis.

You also want to be sure to reiterate this information in your annual sexual harassment policy training. Additionally,  you should continue to allow other employees to learn about potential problems and best practices for avoiding them. Encourage them to ask questions about this or anything else they may be unclear about. This can help foster a better understanding of the situation and resolve any doubts they may have had.

It’s important to note that the guidelines and steps listed here are not foolproof and will not prevent every sexual harassment incident from occurring. However, they do serve as a good starting point for any employer looking to take proactive steps toward preventing this detrimental behavior in the workplace. Additionally, you may want to consider hiring an employment law attorney, who can help create an action plan, draft sexual harassment policies and provide advice on handling these sensitive situations.

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