Is your sexual harassment policy effective?
by cjleclaire
 Stephen Hans Blog
Jun 06, 2013 | 6715 views | 0 0 comments | 344 344 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

In our politically correct and litigious world, employers need to establish strong and specific policies regarding sexual harassment.  Not only is this behavior against the law but if a sexual harassment case is proved it can affect your reputation, finances, and even the future of your company.

What is sexual harassment?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) states that it is “unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex.”  And sexual harassment can manifest as: unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical actions that are sexual in nature.  Even offensive remarks about a person’s gender can constitute sexual harassment.

 Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs
  • Name calling
  • Physical assaults or threats
  • Intimidation
  • Ridicule
  • Insults or put-downs
  • Offensive objects or pictures
  • Interference with work performance

And harassers can include:

  • The victim’s direct supervisor
  • A supervisor in another area
  • An agent of the employer
  • A co-worker
  • A client of the company

Employer liabilities for sexual harassment

As an employer, you can be held liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages.  You can also be held liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees over whom you have control such as independent contractors or customers on the premises.  If the accuser can show that you knew or should have known about the situation and failed to take quick and appropriate action you may find yourself paying fines, settlements or defending employees in criminal and civil court.

Prevention is the best approach – talk to an employment law attorney

The risk of EEOC complaints, civil lawsuits, hefty legal fees, and settlements of hundreds of thousands of dollars inspires the need to create a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment for your company.  An experienced NY employment law attorney can help you determine the appropriate policies and steps you need to take to prevent and correct sexual harassment within your company.  If you have questions about your company’s sexual harassment policies contact us online  or call 718-275-6700 today to schedule an appointment.

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