You have worked hard to build your business into what it is today. Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace can undermine what you have accomplished. It can destroy your employees’ morale and reduce their productivity. It can also expose your company to liability, financial and/or legal. This is true even if it was not you who engaged in the harassment directly but one of your employees.
The best way to deal with sexual harassment is to either prevent it from happening in the first place or address it right away when it does occur before the situation has a chance to escalate. We understand that while you may take your legal and moral obligation to stop harassment seriously, you may not know how to go about it. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests these steps to demonstrate to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment in your workplace.
1. Provide training
Explain to your employees that anyone can be a harasser, whether male or female: a supervisor, a co-worker or even a non-employee. The victim of harassment does not need to be the target of the offensive behavior. Sexual harassment can involve demanding favors, making unwelcome advances or creating a hostile work environment with sexually charged verbal abuse.
2. Establish a grievance process
Once your employees understand what harassment is, you should provide a process by which they can report it if they witness or experience it. This process should include a mechanism to protect the victim from retaliation by the harasser.
3. Take immediate action
When you receive such a complaint via the grievance process, you should take immediate steps to investigate and address it. Failure to act quickly sends mixed messages to your employees about your level of commitment to sexual harassment prevention.