In the last few months, allegations of sexual harassment against famous entertainers and high-profile politicians have flooded the news headlines. However, sexual harassment in the workplace is not limited to Hollywood and “inside the beltway” politicians. In the wake of these recent claims of sexual harassment, now is an appropriate time for all employers (big and small) to reflect on their own workplace culture and policies to make sure that the work environment is free from sexual harassment. Here are three tips for employers to prevent sexual harassment at work.
- Implement a Zero Tolerance Sexual Harassment Policy: Employee handbooks should contain a strong anti-harassment policy. This policy should define what is considered sexual harassment, state that the employer will not tolerate sexual harassment, and explain the steps that an employee should follow if he/she believes that they are the victim of (or observe) sexual harassment.
- Training: At a minimum, all managers should routinely receive sexual harassment training. In addition, if an employer is concerned that sexual harassment may be occurring in the workplace, then all employees should receive sensitivity training to educate employees about sexual harassment.
- Prompt Investigation: In the event that an employee complains about sexual harassment, the employer should immediately investigate and make sure that the complaining party is not retaliated against for making a good faith claim of sexual harassment. In many situations, it is necessary to separate the complaining employee from the alleged harasser until the investigation is complete. However, the complaining party should not be transferred or forced to do extra work, as this may be viewed as retaliation. At the conclusion of the investigation, appropriate punishment should be implemented if sexual harassment has occurred.
For more information on sexual harassment policies and investigations, please contact Scott A. Mirsky at (301) 656-7603 or firstname.lastname@example.org.