Every employee should feel safe in the workplace, but sexual harassment can turn a job into a nightmare. An estimated 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men experience sexual harassment in the workplace, so it is clear that this is a widespread issue that employers must address. Here are some steps that your employer should take to let employees know that they are safe from sexual harassment at the workplace. If these or similar steps are not completed by your employer, it is possible they could be held accountable for any incidents of sexual harassment you encounter.
1. Create a Definitive Sexual Harassment Policy
Many small companies may not have policies in place regarding sexual harassment, but it turns out that many larger companies are also lacking in adequate sexual harassment policies. Your employer should review existing policies or create new ones to fill in any gaps that might cause issues later on. You can also ask for a copy of the sexual harassment policy if you suspect your employer is lacking proper regulations.
A typical company policy on sexual harassment should include:
- A statement that the organization is committed to a discrimination and harassment-free workplace with zero-tolerance for inappropriate conduct, and employees are expected to comply with all harassment policies.
- A statement that those who report sexual harassment will not experience adverse effects on their employment.
- A definition and examples of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other behaviors or verbal conduct of a sexual nature that may affect the employment of the victim if rejected, affects the victim’s work performance, or creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive work environment.
- Clear instructions to report sexual harassment claims.
- The company’s policy for the discipline of employees who participate in harassment.
2. Never Cultivate an Inappropriate Office Culture
It may feel like that’s “just how things are” or that a company culture is meant to be fun and edgy, but inappropriate jokes, pranks, conversations, comments, and practices can leave some employees feeling uncomfortable and alienated. If your office culture is more than “PG” rated, make notes of inappropriate occurrences in case you have to file a complaint, or if you know you need to file one. A company still can be fun, while also being safe for all employees.
3. Send All Upper-Level Employees to Anti-Harassment Training
Executives and employees in management positions should have a clear and uniform understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment and should be prepared to handle a situation, should it arise.
4. Address All Complaints Immediately
If an employee files any harassment claim, it should be addressed immediately by supervisors, managers, and any executive that is made aware of the situation. Taking steps to investigate and address sexual harassment claims quickly will let employees know this behavior will not be tolerated.
5. Prevent Retaliation
Many employees may not come forward with complaints if they feel that their employment is at stake. It is illegal to retaliate against employees for filing a sexual harassment claim, so it is important that all employees are well-aware of the laws regarding harassment, retaliation, and their employee rights.
Have Questions? Ask Our Memphis Employment Law Attorneys – (901) 209-5500
As an employee facing sexual harassment or working in a workplace without strong anti-harassment policies, you may not know where to turn for assistance you can trust. Our Memphis employment lawyers can help you file a sexual harassment complaint and stand up for your rights if it is not being taken seriously by your employer. At Donati Law, PLLC, our team has considerable experience in many areas of employment law, and we are prepared to help you seek justice and compensation through litigation when necessary.
Schedule a consultation with our attorneys today. Contact our offices by calling (901) 209-5500.