How to Protect Your Business from a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
BY: VESELINA DZHINGAROVA ON MONDAY, AUGUST 21, 2017
The costs associated with a sexual harassment lawsuit are hard to quantify. There will be the cost of hiring legal representation, paying out damages if your company is found guilty, and of course the damage to your business’s reputation. Expensive jury awards can cost a business upwards of $1 million, which is a considerable amount of money, especially for a smaller business. You could try to settle before the claim reaches court, but there is no guarantee a settlement will be accepted.
Aside from the financial cost of defending a sexual harassment lawsuit, it is time-consuming, stressful, and damaging to morale, even when the claim has no merit. Not surprisingly, it is better for your bottom line to avoid such a problem in the first place.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwanted sexual attention of any kind. This can range from non-physical harassment, such as a manager offering a junior employee a promotion in return for sexual favors, to outright physical assault. Even sending a sexually explicit joke via email to a coworker can be construed as sexual harassment if the joke backfires.
The problem with sexual harassment in the workplace is that lines are often blurred. We typically spend 40 hours a week with these people, so it isn’t uncommon for office banter to border on offensive. Often, people can take a joke and nobody is upset, but if one colleague is repeatedly cornering another in the kitchen after hours and won’t take no for an answer, or a manager thinks it is “OK” to make sexist jokes about his secretary’s buxom figure, you have a problem.
There was a time when sexual harassment in the workplace was commonplace, but fortunately, employment law has caught up, workers have access to legal representation from places like Lawsuit Legal, and now any form of harassment, sexual or otherwise, is grounds for a lawsuit.
The most effective way to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace is to prevent such a culture existing within your organization. You can do this by creating a sexual harassment policy and circulating it to all existing and new employees.
The policy should define sexual harassment and clearly state what behaviors are unacceptable. Outline your procedure for reporting sexual harassment and let everyone know the company will not tolerate such behavior.
Even with a clearly defined sexual harassment policy in place, problems can and do occur. You can eliminate most problems by training managers and supervisors to nip unwanted behaviors in the bud. Send them on training courses so they can learn how to deal with sexual harassment and complaints.
Employees should also receive training so they know what types of behavior are not acceptable and what to do if they have a complaint.
Provide a Clear Claims Process
Make it easy for employees to report a problem with a coworker or manager. Take all sexual harassment complaints seriously and investigate thoroughly. If a claim is legitimate, take immediate action in accordance with your company policy.
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