By now everyone should know that sexual harassment is against the law, causes lawsuits, and ruins careers. Nonetheless, managers, employers, and employees continue to engage in it all too often. Roughly $50 million was paid in sexual harassment cases according to the EEOC in 2007 – and that doesn’t include hundreds of state court verdicts. As a reminder, here are the basics of sexual harassment prevention:
- A publicly articulated policy that’s acknowledged by the entire workforce.
- A message from the top that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
- Training for managers and employees on sexual harassment — what it is and how to prevent it. HR That Works users have these Training Modules available to them 24/7.
- Don’t assume who can be considered a harasser or a victim. For example, 16% of sexual harassment claims were filed by men last year. Sexual harassment law also includes conduct engaged in by independent contractors, customers, and clients.
- The definition of sexual harassment continues to broaden. If it has anything to do with sex, you can consider it to be sexual. And since our culture is obsessed with sex, you can rest assured that stupid and misguided conduct in this area will continue.
- Once you’re notified of sexual harassment, engage in a prompt and thorough investigation. As always, if you have any doubts about how to handle the matter, contact an experienced employment law attorney immediately.
- Finally, guard against possible retaliation claims. Claimants will be highly sensitive to any criticism and instances of poor performance must be specifically documented. Any termination within three months of a complaint is almost always regarded as retaliatory.
HR That Works members should take advantage of the sexual harassment training videos and other tools to prevent these destructive claims.