Prevent Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
5 point Checklist to protect your business from sexual harassment litigation! Did you know that 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men experience sexual harassment at work? Whether your employees are doing the day-to-day thing at the office or are gathered at a summertime company party, they should be well informed of the business’s sexual harassment policy and where to draw the line with their behavior. To protect your organization in terms of liability, you should take sexual harassment seriously and follow these steps, several of which are based on guidance from the EEOC.
- Have a sexual harassment policy in place that defines sexual harassment and provides examples of specific behaviors that constitute harassment. It should state that your organization does not tolerate harassment based on sex (and other protected characteristics). Include the policy in your handbook and communicate/review it with your staff. Discuss the policy with new hires.
- Provide sexual harassment training. Provide periodic sexual harassment training to your workforce and supervisors to help them recognize and prevent sexual harassment, and to help managers understand their responsibilities when dealing with issues of harassment. Make sexual harassment training a mandatory training part of a new hire's orientation.
- Have a complaint and/or grievance procedure. Establish a procedure for reporting a complaint of sexual harassment and ideally, alternative methods of filing sexual harassment complaints. Also, more than one individual should be able to take complaints, and they should be accessible. Keep all complaints and grievances confidential.
- Investigate all complaints. An organization's liability for sexual harassment can be reduced or eliminated depending on how quickly and effectively it responds to a complaint of harassment. Thorough investigations should be conducted on all complaints immediately following receipt of the complaint. Accurate records of the investigation need to be maintained.
- Correct the issue and protect the victim from retaliation. Take steps to correct the issue of harassment. If an employee is found guilty of sexual harassment after your investigation, discipline the employee according to the severity of the offense and document the actions taken in writing. And, make sure that no employee who brings a sexual harassment claim faces retaliation.