Handling Sexual Harassment Claims in the Workplace
Sexual harassment comes in many forms. Sexual Harassment can be a form of gender discrimination, unwanted sexual advances, or obscene and offensive remarks. It can occur in a variety of settings, including the workplace. As an employer, you must be aware of workplace sexual harassment. Employers must take appropriate action to respond to allegations of sexual harassment and take steps to prevent it. Here is a bit of information that you, as an employer, need to know about sexual harassment in the workplace and how to avoid or prevent it.
What is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
Courts have traditionally classified sexual harassment into two different types of harassment that can occur in the workplace. The first type is quid pro quo and the second is a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo means that an employee is led to believe that there are job benefits or perks if they engage in sexual behavior. This may include good performance reviews, obtaining pay raises or getting a position higher up within the company. It can also be perceived as necessary to avoid threats of negative consequences. A hostile work environment refers to sexual comments or conduct that are considered offensive and makes an employee uncomfortable. This may include cat calling or touching employees. However, not all hostile environments are so open and obvious.
How Can Workplace Sexual Harassment Be Avoided?
As an employer, it is important that you remain proactive in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. There are many different ways that you can go about this. The first is to create a strict anti-harassment policy. Let all of your employees know sexual harassment will not be tolerated and then let them know the consequences of doing so. Next, train employees on how to recognize harassment and why it is important to report it. These courses should outline what sexual harassment is, what should happen if the employee feels harassed, and how you, the employer can help in this situation. Lastly, be sure to let employees know where they can safely report harassment claims. Knowing how and where to fill out a report helps to get information to you sooner so you can investigate and take appropriate action as quickly as possible.
What is an Employer Liable for When it Comes to Workplace Sexual Harassment?
When it comes to workplace sexual harassment, you as an employer can be held liable for the harassment if the employee can prove that you knew about it and failed to act. Damages can include economic damages like lost wages, non-economic damages like pain and suffering as well as attorney fees and litigation costs. As an employer, you will be held liable for termination or a loss of wages that was the result of a supervisor who was sexually harassing an employer, even if you did not know about it. As such, it is important to properly train all of your staff members on what sexual harassment is, how to prevent it and to take all claims seriously. Other claims will hinge on whether you have proper policies, reporting procedures, investigations, etc.
Has your business considered the appropriate training to make people aware of sexual harassment and implemented procedures to stop it? If you need help getting the right procedures in place or are already facing a potential sexual harassment lawsuit, contact Dawson & Associates LLC today. We can help you train your staff and defend your company against lawsuits. Fill out our consultation form and a member of our staff will contact you as soon as possible.