Sexual Harassment: What Can Employers Do to Protect Themselves and Their Employees?
Over the past month, every day has brought another round of accusations of sexual harassment or misconduct in various industries, including show business. Indeed, two Oscar-winning actors, a Hollywood filmmaker, a well-known director and a famous comedian are just the latest high-profile figures to be accused of sexual harassment.
As these recent news stories remind us, workplace harassment is real, it is serious, and it is still prevalent in our society – and not just in Hollywood. It happens every day across all industries, in offices of all types and sizes, at offsite social gatherings among co-workers, and it even happens on social media. No employer is immune from claims of harassment.
So, what is an employer to do? Employers have a responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment and discrimination. Therefore, employers must be proactive:
- Make sure your company or organization has anti-harassment and discrimination policies in place and make sure every employee receives a copy of those policies.
- Have specific procedures in place for your employees to follow if they believe they have been a victim of harassment or discrimination.
- Annually provide harassment and discrimination prevention training to all your employees, supervisors and managers.
- Take all complaints of harassment seriously and act immediately to properly investigate complaints.
- Keep in mind that both men and women can be victims of harassment and can be the harassers. Harassment can occur even where the victim is the same sex as the harasser.
- Be aware that the person complaining of harassment does not have to be the person at whom the conduct was directed, it can be someone else who was affected by the conduct.
- Take prompt corrective action if after an investigation it is determined that harassment has occurred.