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Sexual Harassment Workplace - How to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

employees training employee harassed

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a seriously problem in the workplace that can potentially cause both psychological and financial problems for all three entities involved: the person being harassed, the harasser, and the company that employs them. It has been found that an employer can be held responsible for sexual harassment in the workplace if the employer is aware of the charges and they have done nothing to prevent or discourage it. If you own a business with multiple employees, you will want to do everything in your power to prevent sexual harassment before it takes place to avoid a potential law suit, keep your productivity levels high, and to keep morale strong in the workplace.

Sexual harassment is legally defined as any physical action, verbal statement, or recorded message of a sexual nature originating on the job that interferes with work, is made a condition of employment, or that causes hostile, offensive or intimidating workplace. The following are some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • An employee’s supervisor suggests that he can be replaced if he does not sleep with her.
  • A male employee constantly makes derogatory remarks against females.
  • An employee often tells sexually explicit jokes in the workplace.
  • An employee sends sexual material to other employees via email.

It is important to remember that anyone on the job can be sexually harassed. This is not a female-only situation. Sexual harassment is gender-neutral and does not necessarily have to cross gender lines. Men and women can be harassed by co-workers and supervisors of the same sex.

Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace requires that you take a few simple steps. You may need the help of your lawyer in the completion of these steps. It is important to complete as many as is possible, and never assume that a single step is enough to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace or protect you from liability. Here are the steps to be followed:

1. Have a Clear Policy
You should have an employee handbook outlining company rules and expectations of all employees. If you do not have one, you should create one. If you do have one, but do not have a section about sexual harassment in the workplace, it should be added. Your written company policy on sexual harassment in the workplace should include this information:

  • A definition of sexual harassment.
  • A declaration that it will not be tolerated in any way.
  • A statement that anyone found to have committed an act of sexual harassment will be severely disciplined or fired.
  • A procedure for filing a complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • An assurance that all claims will be seriously investigated and kept confidential.
  • A statement that if the person who makes a sexual harassment claim should become known, no detrimental actions or retaliation will be made against them.

2. Employee Training
Beginning a program of employee training can prevent cases of sexual harassment that could occur without the training. The training not only educates employees on sexual harassment, but it shows that you are serious about the company policy against it. Training should be held annually so all new employees have a chance to attend. The training should provide employees with the knowledge that sexual harassment is not to be tolerated and they have rights should they be sexually harassed.

3. Manager/Supervisor Training
Managers and supervisors should be trained separately from regular employees. Again, training should be held every year. These sessions should cover everything in the employee training with the addition of how to deal with complaints from employees.

4. Be an Active Part of the Workplace
Go out into the workplace of your employees and check up on their work, make small talk, ask about their families, and see if there are any suggestions for more efficiently completing work. Keep an eye out for sexually explicit pictures or notes. Keep an ear open for sexual language. Let managers know that you are available if there are any problems.

5. Follow-up on Complaints
Take all complaints seriously and follow-up with an investigation. If your investigation finds that the complaint is valid, immediate and severe action should be taken.

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