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Sexual Harassment

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Sexual Harassment

Here is a list of things you can do to help prevent and hopefully stop sexual harassment someday. First, if your company does not have a sexual harassment/discrimination policy, try and get one as quick as possible. The policy should communicate that the company is taking a "zero tolerance" approach toward sexual harassment. Have an attorney review it, and make sure it gets out to all your employees either through the employee handbook or in memo form. Have the employees sign it to acknowledged that they received and read the policy. This policy should be verbally communicated to all employees, new and old, and can even be posted in the workplace. If you have employees whose primary language is not English, have your sexual harassment policy translated or communicate to them in their primary language. Next, provide different routes that employees can take to file complaints; i.e., calling a hotline, contacting the human resource department, or by contacting their supervisor. This will enable employees to make a complaint without anyone know if they want. Also, the employee should have the option of talking with a male or female company representative. An employee can also conduct sexual harassment training, even if it is only composed of reading material or watching a video, something is better then no training at all. This will introduce sexual harassment to the company and tell them the different ways to help prevent it. An employee can also conduct yearly meetings with your supervisors to review the sexual harassment policy, and to make sure that they understand that an employee does not need to suffer negative consequences in order to make a claim of sexual harassment. Inform the supervisors that even mild to moderate sexual jokes or statements can create an atmosphere of hostility that will make some employees uncomfortable, and could lead to the creation of an environment where sexual discrimination could develop. The supervisor should also be directed to always inform upper management of any sexual harassment complaints he or she receives from employees. Supervisors should never promise confidentiality with an employee when the information relates to sexual harassment. Another step an employee can do to help prevent sexual harassment is, conduct a yearly sexual harassment survey among your employees. The survey can be done anonymously and should be distributed with a copy of the company’s sexual harassment policy. The survey can simply ask all the employees if they have experienced any form of sexual harassment during the past year. Doing a survey will tell a court that your company is actively engaged in preventing and correcting sexual harassment. Remember, that the Supreme Court has just determined that an employer can be held liable for incidents of sexual harassment that they are unaware of occurring. So, one method of defense will be to demonstrate to the court or a jury that your company conducts yearly meetings with supervisors and also conducts a yearly sexual harassment survey to attempt to uncover sexual harassment violations before they cause problems for your employees. Next, an employee can conduct investigations quickly and thoroughly. After the dispute is resolved, a follow up should be done with the employee to ensure that no one has suffered retaliation. Make sure your sexual harassment policy spells out clearly that retaliation against an employee filing a sexual harassment complaint is illegal and will not be tolerated. One of the most important things you can do when you think you might have been sexually harassed is to document it. Always document the results of any sexual harassment complaint or investigation. Not only document the results, but document any corrective action that you asked the employee or supervisor to take. Follow up on any corrective action so you can document if the employee fails to take advantage of your companies polices/procedures or any corrective action that your company takes to prevent the sexual harassment from occurring again in the future. Inform all employees that it is their obligation to report sexual harassment that they either experience or witness.

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