As an employer, preventing workplace harassment is key to providing a safe and enjoyable working environment for employees. Harassment in the workplace is defined as any situation which creates an uncomfortable work environment for groups or individuals, through either inappropriate conduct, behavior, actions and/or statements. By implementing improved policies and employer-employee training, discrimination and harassment in the workplace can be diminished and even eliminated in many cases.
Here are some fundamentals to achieving a harassment-free work zone:
Write a workplace policy. Having a harassment policy in place which thoroughly describes the different types of harassment and scenarios in the workplace will provide employees with a set of guidelines to which they can refer back to during their time of employment. The policy will equip individuals within the company with the knowledge and skills for how to avoid and handle harassment situations. Many written workplace harassment policies also include a training video to demonstrate relevant workplace scenarios.
Discuss workplace harassment with your employment lawyer. Asking your attorney for advice on workplace harassment is essential to understanding the full legalities of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, as well as your obligations to prevent it. Your lawyer can provide you with the information you need to protect yourself, but also your employees.
Aggressively investigate and pursue complaints of harassment in the workplace. In many workplace harassment claims, the accuser often cites negligence of the employer to act on a complaint with little or no investigation. Acting on all claims immediately and purposefully will ensure that a ‘no tolerance’ stance on harassment is presented.
Designate a role within your company for harassment questions. Delegating a position within the company to handle any questions on workplace harassment will ensure comprehensive knowledge of the do’s and don’ts with any situation, and provide employees with an adviser for difficult situations. This individual should be available for training, guidance and reports of incidents. You can further develop the role by creating policies, handbooks and procedures for handling harassment issues that may arise.
Although completely eliminating harassment in the workplace is difficult to achieve, steps to prevention begin with the employer. Implementing and developing the above methods, as well as speaking with your attorney to garner further understanding on harassment legalities, will render a safe and enjoyable working environment for your employees.