Compliance and Legal
Employers have a legal duty to prevent and remedy all forms of unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment. Two Supreme Court opinions clearly state that an employer must take reasonable steps to prevent and remedy sexual harassment or be left with little or no defense for a claim of sexually harassing behavior by a supervisor.
The foundation of a prevention program is an effective anti-harassment policythat clearly prohibits harassment, including sexual harassment, and provides procedures for reporting and correcting harassment.
Because employers will bear the burden of proving that reasonable steps were taken to prevent harassment, an effective, written policy is a must.
Elements of a Harassment Prevention Program include:
Employees should be encouraged to report inappropriate conduct faced in the work environment and by those who work with them. The reporting could be done in person or through a confidential mechanism (such as a hotline) and all employees should have several avenues for reporting in case their direct chain of command is the person they are uncomfortable with.
Once reported, all complaints should be given utmost sensitivity and concern and a determination made as to who is the most appropriate party to investigate the complaint.
The employee should cooperate with the investigation and provide all factual detail as to why they feel that they have been treated inappropriately. If the employee has reported the behavior and does not see any action taken to investigate or does not notice a behavioral change by the alleged harasser, the employee is encouraged to report to a higher person in charge, including Human Resources, In-house counsel, or an officer of the organization.
Denise Kay, Esq., SPHR is a Senior Consultant with Employment Practices Solutions, Inc., a nationwide consulting firm dedicated to assisting employers with employee relations issues. Denise is a licensed attorney in the State of Colorado and is certified through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). In addition, she is a trained mediator and is an instructor at the Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University teaching business law, employment law and negotiation skills courses. Denise serves on the SHRM Colorado State Council as the Governmental Affairs Director and as a committee member of the ASIS/SHRM partnership to develop a National Standard for Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention. Further, she is the Community Coordinator for the Colorado Bar Association’s Domestic Violence: Make It Your Business Program educating employers on the impact of violence in the workplace.
Employment Practices Solutions, Inc., is the premier nationwide employee relations resource. Our MISSION is to help you prevent and correct employment claims and enhance employee relations. Our STRENGTH is our team of experienced employment attorney-consultants. Our GOAL is your peace of mind.
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