Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is among the top duties of any employer. You have a responsibility to ensure your workers feel safe.
There are various steps you can take to cultivate a work environment where sexual harassment is not a problem. The following are just a few noteworthy ideas to consider.
Some forms of workplace sexual harassment, such as frequent unwanted sexual advances, are overt. Others are subtler.
This can potentially result in confusion regarding which types of behaviors do and do not qualify as examples of sexual harassment. To ensure this doesn’t happen, establish very clear and transparent policies defining what sexual harassment involves. When doing so, coordinate with HR and confirm that your policies align with any legal definitions of sexual harassment in your state.
Many workplaces already require employees to undergo sexual harassment training. The problem is, the lessons that someone learns in a brief training session can be forgotten over time if they are not reinforced.
Don’t assume that a single sexual harassment training session is enough to ensure your workers never engage in behaviors that constitute workplace sexual harassment. Strongly consider requiring employees to undergo this training at least once a year. It’s also wise to review the content of your existing training programs and determine whether it needs to be updated or expanded upon.
Don’t treat sexual harassment prevention as a responsibility that belongs solely to those at the upper levels of your company. Encourage employees at all levels to keep an eye out for instances of sexual harassment, and ensure they understand there are clear and simple processes for reporting instances of improper behavior.
You may even want to establish processes that allow workers to report instances of sexual harassment anonymously. When employees know their identities won’t be revealed if they report perceived harassment, they may be more inclined to speak up.
Additionally, encourage supervisors to spend less time at their desks or in their offices and more time moving about the workplace when they are not distracted by other tasks that require their focus. You don’t necessarily want your workers to feel they are under constant surveillance, but you do want to foster a work environment where supervisors are consistently on the lookout for signs of sexual harassment.
Is it possible that an employee with a vendetta against a coworker will claim they are guilty of sexual harassment when this is not actually the case? Theoretically, yes, but it’s best to assume these instances will be rare. Instead, adopt a policy of thoroughly and objectively investigating and reviewing all complaints of sexual harassment. This will send a clear message to victims that their complaints are taken seriously, and it will send a message to perpetrators of sexual harassment that such behavior will not be tolerated.
That said, even when companies are proactive about guarding against sexual harassment in the workplace, it sometimes still occurs. If you think you may have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment and you feel your employer has not done enough to remedy the situation, our sexual harassment attorneys at JML Law are here to help. Contact us online or call us at 818-610-8800 to schedule your free consultation.