Overview: There are a number of issues employers face when confronting sexual harassment in the workplace. All employers should have a policy that defines and prevents harassing behavior. The policy should designate a system for reporting complaints as well as let employees know that the employer will respond to any complaints of sexual harassment with prompt and immediate action. Employee training and development on the policy is critical for all employees and supervisors. It is also important that they understand the employer's zero tolerance policy for harassment. Employers should monitor the workplace and immediately respond to allegations of harassment by undertaking a full and thorough investigation. An employer must show that it is willing to take swift action and corrective measures. In many instances, this can serve as an employer's best defense to a harassment claim.
Trends: From government to entertainment to Fortune 500 companies to the media to the halls of Congress, it seems that sexual harassment has become an even greater risk for employers as the issue has boiled up and come to the forefront in recent months particularly with the #metoo and #timesup movements. In fact states such as California and New York as well as localities such as New York City have enacted aggressive legal measures meant to combat sexual harassment in the workplace and to increase transparency around the issue. Therefore, it is critical for an employer to understand that it must work to eradicate sexual harassment and all forms of harassment based on any protected class from the workplace because the employer has so much at stake. It is important to hold all individuals in the organization to the same standards of conduct and make sure that no one — not a manager, supervisor or owner — should be provided with special treatment. It is no longer possible to maintain a culture of silence and complicity and there must be a cultural shift in recognizing that there is no place for harassment at work.
Author: Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect education and training requirements for talent agencies; expansion of applicability of harassment prevention training requirements; and optional training components, effective January 1, 2019.
Updated to include Delaware requirements, effective January 1, 2019.
Updated to reflect sexual harassment protections, effective January 1, 2019.
Year-end is a time typically focused on endings and for HR that means finalizing benefits enrollment, processing performance appraisals and completing payroll filings. But equally important is to prepare for new compliance requirements that will ring in the New Year.
Updated to include information regarding the forthcoming effective date for the notice provisions of the paid family and medical leave law.
As recommended by the Washington State Human Rights Commission, all Washington employers are encouraged to adopt the Washington Model Sexual Harassment Policy.
As recommended by the Washington State Human Rights Commission, all Washington employers are encouraged to adopt the Washington Model Sexual Harassment Reporting Procedures.
Google recently announced significant changes to its sexual harassment policies in response to a one-day walkout by employees around the world protesting the company made payments at termination to employees accused of sexual harasserment.
HR guidance on workplace sexual harassment including creating a policy, training employees, immediately responding to harassment complaints and imposing discipline.