Imagine standing in court being asked what you did to prevent sexual harassment from happening in your workplace. How would you answer?
If your company has grown slowly and organically, the idea that one member of your staff may accuse another of sexual harassment might never have crossed your mind. Yet, regardless of your history, there is an expectation for you to take steps to reduce the chance of such things happening. Federal and state laws expect you to provide a safe working environment for your employees. While the laws only apply once you reach a certain number of employees, it is wise to have policies in place regardless of your size.
Employee handbooks make your stance on sexual harassment clear
Employee handbooks are an essential tool that can help you reduce the chance of sexual harassment happening in your company. Here is what they should cover:
- Make clear that you will not tolerate harassment. It may be wise to spell out what the law considers harassment.
- Set out a clear method for people who feel they have been harassed to report the incidents. Expecting employees to knock on your door and ask if they can have a word may not be realistic. People can be embarrassed about these things and they need a clear understanding of the process they should follow.
- Make clear that you will take no action against people who report sexual harassment. Many workers do not report incidents because they are afraid of losing their job or being retaliated against.
The clearer your stance on sexual harassment, the better. If someone is claiming they suffered sexual harassment in your company, seek legal help to find the best way of dealing with the issue.