Given the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations, it is more important now than ever for employers to examine their own policies and practices. As an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure that your workplace is free from harassment and discrimination. In order to avoid liability you must be able to prove that you took proactive measures and exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassing behavior. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cites the following measures be taken:
- Have current and proper Anti-Harassment Policies – Zero Tolerance
- Establish and Publicize Your Policies and Internal-Compliant Procedures
- Engage with Corporate Leadership to Ensure Accountability at All Levels
- Provide and Document Trainings to Communicate Employees’ Rights and Responsibilities
Components of a comprehensive anti-harassment policy and training and awareness program should include the following: A statement that prohibits harassment by employees, supervisors and third parties such as contractors, customers and vendors; a definition of harassment and examples of prohibited conduct. Employers should include all types of harassment, not just sexual harassment. Although sexual harassment continues to be the most common type of harassment in the workplace, harassment can also occur based on other federal and state protected categories such as age, disability, race, religion and gender identity, to name a few. Employers must have a complaint procedure in place including multiple avenues for reporting; a statement of non-retaliation for bringing forth a claim of harassment; and investigation and disciplinary procedures if harassment was found to have occurred. Eliminating any form of harassment must begin with leadership from the very top of an organization to clearly state that such conduct is neither tolerated nor acceptable.
FosterThomas assists organizations in preventing and correcting harassment in the workplace by assisting in the development of anti-harassment policies and providing effective anti-harassment training and awareness programs. Obviously preventing harassment before it happens is ideal, however, if a workplace harassment claim occurs, FosterThomas can conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of harassment.
For FosterThomas assistance, please contact Beth Bulger, our Director of HR Services at: 1-800-372-3626 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org