Harassment Claims In The Workplace – If there’s one issue entrepreneurs will remember in 2018, it’s the spate of sexual misconduct allegations that have swept the country and rocked the American workplace. Amid accusations from celebrities, politicians and business leaders, the #MeToo movement has kept this important issue in the national spotlight. More than ever, business owners need to know how to deal with sexual allegations that can arise in the workplace.
This is just the beginning of a change in culture that will continue to put additional pressure on employers to ensure that policies for preventing, reporting and responding to disclosures of sexual harassment are appropriate and effective. It’s also a time of opportunity—an opportunity for organizations to take the lead and make positive, lasting change in the workplace.
Harassment Claims In The Workplace
Even if an organization has been spared the tumult of sexual harassment, future risks can be minimized by updating policies and continually improving harassment prevention strategies.
Workplace Sexual Harassment Law In California (2023)
Companies must also look inward and ensure that their culture truly reflects a zero tolerance for any form of harassment. A big part of this is making sure employees feel comfortable and safe to come forward when harassment occurs. There should be systems in place that give employees multiple opportunities to file a complaint without fear of retaliation, especially if the person they end up reporting to is the alleged harasser.
Not all allegations of sexual harassment remain behind closed doors. As we have seen, companies may first become aware of an incident through the press or social media. Regardless of how an allegation comes to light, it is important that employers take all allegations seriously and act quickly. Regular monitoring of social media feeds is also a good idea.
In terms of procedure, all complaints of sexual harassment require a proactive and thorough investigation. Even when an employer is made aware of a harassment incident through an online posting, Human Resources should be called immediately and investigate.
The company must first identify who posted the post and determine when and where the alleged conduct occurred. If the victim of harassment is easily identified in the post and is a current employee, HR should reach out immediately and give the employee a chance to share their story. Upon further investigation, immediate corrective or disciplinary action should be taken if warranted by the evidence. Depending on the severity and pervasiveness of the behavior and whether the harasser is a person with authority to hire, discipline and fire, it may result in termination of employment.
Why We Fail To Report Sexual Harassment
If the person making the allegation cannot be easily identified in the online post or is no longer an employee, the company can be proactive and send a message to all employees reminding them that sexual harassment of any kind is strictly prohibited. Employers can also use the post to review internal complaints procedures and encourage anyone who feels harassed to speak up without fear.
Training remains the first line of defense against sexual harassment. Formal anti-harassment education should be implemented at least once a year for existing employees and during onboarding for all new hires. Every company is different and the frequency should be adjusted based on the needs of the organization and its people. Innovations in this area are likely as companies look for more effective and creative approaches to prevent bullying.
Sexual harassment headlines have not changed the current rules. What was prohibited behavior before is still prohibited and, in some cases, against the law. The difference now is the level of attention that harassment claims require, how we define workplace harassment, how claims will be handled and how we treat those involved. The spotlight on this issue is harsh, but it presents a great opportunity for companies to do better. Employers can reinforce existing HR best practices and lead the way in creating new ways to ensure workplaces are free of unlawful harassment and discrimination. The time to do so is now. Workplace bullying is more common than you might think, and it can drive away top talent and damage a company’s reputation. To avoid this, it is essential to have a strategy to combat bullying. How can your organization create an effective anti-bullying policy? Let’s discuss some practical steps you can take.
An anti-harassment policy aims to address and prevent conflict situations that violate the dignity of employees. It refers to single or repeated incidents of harassment, humiliation, humiliation, bullying or other unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical behavior towards an individual or group of people.
California Workplace Sexual Harassment Law (2023)
The policy should cover sexual harassment, as well as harassment related to race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.
A formal anti-harassment policy is the first line of defense to prevent harassment from occurring in your workplace. This shows that your organization does not tolerate discriminatory or threatening behavior.
Implementing and enforcing an anti-harassment policy shows employees that you care about their safety and well-being by promoting a respectful, engaging, productive and inclusive work environment.
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Combating Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
An employer committed to anti-harassment procedures will be proactive in addressing hostile situations to prevent escalation and protect itself from costly legal liability. Elements of an anti-harassment policy
Regardless of size, all organizations should prioritize preventing and resolving demoralizing workplace situations with effective anti-bullying policies. You can view some examples of anti-harassment policies here and here to help you formulate your own policies.
– Identify the parties who will comply with the policy standards (employees, managers, directors, contractors, customers.)
Define what constitutes bullying by restating the behavior that is not acceptable and giving examples. Claiming that what is listed is not an exhaustive list. (See tips below for more details.)
What To Do If You’re Experiencing Workplace Bullying
Explain what employees can do if they witness or experience harassment or suspicious behavior that could become serious or widespread.
Typically, the employee should immediately report the incident to the supervisor, but some situations require an alternative method. If the supervisor is not available or directly involved in the episode, employees should have access to the next level manager or a specific person in HR.
The policy should clearly state that the organization takes all harassment complaints seriously and that complainants will be treated with respect.
Discipline for violating the anti-harassment policy must be commensurate with the seriousness of the misconduct. At the very least, a verbal or written warning should be issued with instructions to avoid future reprimands. Further action to be taken may include job reassignment, required sensitivity training, suspension, demotion or termination of employment.
Since #metoo Is It Hard To Make A Sexual Harassment Claim At Work?
To create and sustain effective policies, you need to ensure that they cope with a wide range of factors. Here are some approaches to consider as you develop, revise, or strengthen your organization’s anti-bullying policy: 1. Thoroughly explain the prohibited behavior
Be specific about what the tease looks like to leave as little room for interpretation as possible. Here are some common behaviors and specific examples of bullying:
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Your policy should indicate that the prohibited conduct is not limited to personal situations, but also applies to online/offline interactions.
Workplace Harassment: Here’s How A Meeting With Hr Should Go
Many people have experienced an increase in harassment and hostility since the start of the pandemic and have moved to work remotely. According to a report by Project Include (page 11), 45% of employees have experienced harassment in chat and 41% in email and video conferencing.
Sometimes people lose their discretion and behave differently behind a screen than they would if they were face to face. This is especially true when remote work blurs the line between their private and professional lives. It can encourage some to be thoughtless or inappropriate when communicating digitally. 3. Investigate and document all claims
Take immediate action whenever an employee claims they have been harassed, even if you doubt its validity. Equally important is to never dismiss or ignore a complaint against a senior manager or other person in authority, despite it being a very complex scenario.
In addition, be aware of the possibility of false claims intended to discredit someone. These can be tricky to spot, but extensive research will often reveal the truth.
Steps To Take If You’ve Been Sexually Harassed At Work
You must take any complaint seriously and investigate thoroughly with an open mind and without prejudging the situation. Employees should see HR departments as open to harassment complaints, to be sure they will be heard and treated with consideration when they are raised.
Your policy should include specific steps to guide you through the investigation and for proper documentation at each stage of the process. Clear communication with all parties involved about actions and decisions made is also essential. By resolving issues quickly and appropriately, you can prevent more harassment claims in the future.
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