Employer Liability and Preventing Sexual Harassment
The State of California has recently enacted legislation mandating extensive and specific workplace training programs to stop and prevent sexual harassment. Regular training is one proven method for reducing the frequency of sexual harassment allegations by workers. In addition to providing ongoing training, the employer must take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment in the workplace. Here is a partial list of suggestions:
Create a policy – it is essential that employers create an environment of zero tolerance for harassment. In order to do this, employers must have a written policy that details behaviors that are considered harassment, as well as a list of procedures for filing a complaint. Guidelines for the creation of workplace policy can be found through The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) offices.
Distribute the policy – The person in the highest position of power in the company should write and attach a cover letter to the sexual harassment policy. This material should be distributed to every employee and anyone who has contact with the company, such as vendors or interns.
Investigate complaints promptly and thoroughly – make it clear to your employees that sexual harassment is illegal will not be tolerated and that every complaint filed will be taken seriously. In the event a complaint is filed, demonstrate that you are willing to use the full weight of the law to enforce the policy.
Reprimand harassers quickly and clearly – label inappropriate behavior as such and make it clear the behavior is unacceptable. Create a culture that clearly says sexual harassment and discrimination of any kind do not belong here and that harassers will be chastised and punished.
Consult with an attorney – Employers can be held legally liable for sexual harassment in their workplace. A lawyer can advise you on properly documenting complaints, or represent you if you are named in a discrimination suit.
Learn about your rights and responsibilities by speaking to a discrimination lawyer. Call Los Angeles County Super Lawyers The Ruttenberg Law Firm, P.C. & Grossman, LLP by calling 310.207.4022 or contact us online for a free consultation.