Prominent sexual harassment and assault claims are appearing in the news every single day. Understanding that these can be sensitive issues, and appreciating the good which can result from re-examining corporate practices, we thought it would be appropriate to discuss policy strategies that protect both employees and employers.
Employees often act in accordance with the standards that they believe their employer encourages or allows. This idea is based on the principle that we “are products of our environments.” Regarding sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, acquired or accepted behavioral practices can easily foster a work environment that tolerates harassment and violence.
Ultimately, it takes only one employee’s act (or even implied act) of harassment or violence, absent an employer redress, to encourage a workplace culture of harassment and violence. Like a rumor or seasonal flu, this harmful ethos can quickly spread throughout an organization.
A comprehensive policy that includes education and training can help significantly in discouraging sexual harassment or violence in the workplace. But, to be truly comprehensive, this policy should fully enforce prevention. Upholding this policy requires maintaining a tenor, a decorum, and protocol that kills toxic environments at the roots.
Employers should first define what constitutes harassment and violence in the workplace so that they can develop a clear and effective policy and training program to prevent or punish offenses.
According to the HR Daily Advisor, an online human resources tool provided by Business & Legal Resources, there are two general types of sexual harassment:
It’s also prudent to recognize in your policies that sexual harassment does not only occur in one direction (male towards female). In Wayne County, Michigan, a sheriff’s officer sued the county law enforcement agency because it ignored his original complaint of harassment by a female boss, according to a Detroit Free Press article. The article also noted that hundreds of men nationwide are filing similar complaints.
The case reminds all HR departments that employers can be liable if they knew or should have known that harassment was taking place and failed to take the necessary measures. This case also reminds employers that their policy’s language should be gender neutral regarding.
So, how do you foster a work environment that discourages sexual harassment and violent behavior beyond the employee’s handbook? Here are six important steps that employers can take:
Beyond the legal and moral harms of sexual harassment or assault at the workplace, it makes good business sense to adhere to strict protocols in these arenas, as a hostile work environment is not conducive to productivity, creativity or career longevity.
If you have further questions or concerns about how to create and enforce sustainable policies that help create healthy, safe company cultures, please reach out to us below. Preventing harassment or violence in Michigan workplaces is paramount to achieving our own company mission of adding value and improving the quality of life for the individuals, families, and communities we serve.
December 7, 2018
Article Compliance HR Professionals Over 50 Employees HR Professionals Under 50 Employees