With recent studies suggesting that there are 463,634 victims of sexual violence in the US each year, it is high time businesses stopped burying their heads in the sand about this. Surveys from the UK say that 97% of all women living there have experienced sexual harassment. It may not be all men, but it is all women.
As employers, you have a duty of care to make sure that these incidents of sexual violence are neither condoned, supported, or encouraged by your workplace. When each year the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives 98,411 cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, the focus should be on raising and tackling the issue in daylight, instead of continuing to sweep it under the rug.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
Before we begin tackling the issue, businesses must highlight the things that employees do which others may find harassing. This may mean bringing in a sexual harassment workshop team to train your employees. Learning these issues will help to highlight and tackle them. Your first job as an employer to tackle this ought to be to teach your employees how to recognize it so they can stop it from happening.
Sexual harassment has many forms. Here are common signs to look for:
- Discrimination against an employee over their sex is a no-no.
- Those in positions of authority should not prey on younger employees.
- Denying promotions or bribing employees into sex is obviously wrong.
- Your employees should not be sharing negative images of one another.
- Coworkers should not discriminate against religion, gender, sex, virginity, sexual orientation, or any other character trait.
- Spreading rumors and gossiping about singular employees is forbidden.
- You may not criticize employees on their appearance.
- You should not encourage revealing clothing as an employer, nor should you call a worker into the office to discuss sexual matters. Including if you think her shirt is too small, or any other nonsense.
- Lewd jokes, women flirting with men unwantedly, and any kind of disparaging remarks based on a person’s genitalia, is tolerable.
An example of sexual harassment in the workplace might be when the office bully makes fun of another man because he chooses to use the cubicle in the washroom. A second notable example is of the manager who bribes employees and coworkers for sex in exchange for office favors, holidays, or anything else related to work.
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How to Tackle Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
The next thing you should do after highlighting the issues and training staff, is to seek legal advice. HKM – Houston are a specialist employment lawyers who can offer sound advice on your situation. Not only will an employment lawyer guide you through what not to do, they will help you plan policies which defend your business from future harassment cases.
Medium to large businesses would be wise to hire a law team on a retainer, should they have multiple employees and products. This means if a case does arise, they have outsourced legal help to spring into action. Are you prepared for sexual harassment claims? If not, now is the time.