Taking the following steps to create a safe work environment can help limit exposure to potential workplace harassment claims.
- Develop A Clear and Concise Anti-Harassment Policy
Common sense is not very common. Employers sometimes make the mistake of expecting employees to know intuitively what they may or may not do in the workplace. This is a mistake. Employees come from all different backgrounds and subscribe to all sorts of value systems. Therefore, it is unreasonable to expect uniformity.
The first thing that any employer should do is communicate to all employees in the clearest terms possible exactly what the company considers to be harassing and improper. If the employer expects certain things from its employees, then naturally it should communicate its expectations. The most common way in which this is done is through formal written policies and procedures. Sometimes these policies and procedures are standalone, and other times they are part of an employee handbook or some other compilation of documents.
The employer’s anti-harassment policy should, at minimum, prohibit the type of harassment that is made illegal by state and/or federal law. Consequently, the employer should consult an experienced labor lawyer before rolling out the anti-harassment policy to make sure that the policy is consistent with the law.
- Educate Staff Regarding Unlawful Workplace Harassment
Far too often employers will hire an employment lawyer to devise an anti-harassment policy, only to put away the document in a storage bin or filing cabinet. Having a written policy sitting in the filing cabinet doesn’t do much to educate staff. Employers should make every effort to educate and train employees regarding the anti-harassment policy at regular intervals. The training should be documented. Employers may think that harassment training is too burdensome or expensive, particularly smaller employers who do not have high turnover. While that may have been the case years ago, it isn’t so now. There are many outside vendors who are able to provide the requisite training for a modest fee. What is more, the civil rights department of the state of California provides training for free.
- Enforce Anti-Harassment Policies Fairly and Consistently
There are certain circumstances where an employer will find it difficult to apply its anti-harassment policies fairly and consistently; for example, when the person who has engaged in the harassing conduct is of utmost importance to the organization (e.g. a sales person responsible for most of the company’s sales). Regardless of this, it is important for employers to uniformly apply their policies and procedures and make sure that the company is complying with its own legal obligations irrespective of who the wrongdoer may be.
Contact Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C.
Employers and employees in Southern California can contact Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. for advice about all matters of employment law, including questions about workplace harassment. With our contingency fee services, excellent testimonials, and strong case results, clients know they can rely on our expertise. Are you concerned about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace? It’s time to take a stand and make a difference. Visit our website to learn about your rights, protections, and the steps you can take to combat this issue.