Companies Must Institute Best Practices In Addressing Workplace Harassment
We are in a period of heightened awareness. With the news about sexual harassment over the past several months, people are thinking twice about who is present when they speak within the workplace. Although most of the national news about sexual harassment has been found in highly public industries (mainly Hollywood, media and politics), those high-profile cases have sparked changes in factories, offices and all workplaces where people spend their workdays.
The Acting Chair of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has reported that the EEOC has not experienced an increased number of charges alleging sexual harassment since the creation of #Me Too. It now appears that a groundswell will appear in the EEOC’s charge-filing statistics for the next fiscal year, which covers the period for October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018.
On September 4, 2018 an Associated Press article reported that, “A wave of sexual harassment complaints that accompanied the #Me Too movement has put a strain on many of the state and local offices with policing workplace discrimination of all kinds.”
New York and Massachusetts are hiring new investigators to help handle the volume of complaints. Connecticut is on pace to receive nearly twice as many sexual harassment complaints as last year, and other human rights agencies elsewhere say their small staffs are struggling to keep up with growing caseloads.
Idaho and Maine also report a significant up-tick in sexual harassment and workplace harassment. The increased costs of these civil rights cases are more the agencies can handle and are funded as part of their annual budgets.
Ten Things Your Company Can And Should Do:
- Companies must have a well-written anti-harassment policy.
- Make sure employees have an avenue to complain.
- Employees concerns of sexual harassment must be promptly and adequately addressed.
- Conduct an internal investigation.
- Consider using an outside investigator (using an attorney will maintain the attorney-client work product).
- Use credible assessment until certain.
- Companies need to have a holistic approach to preventing harassment. Corporate culture must start at the top.
- Compliance training should take place every other year (at the least) and should include workplace civility.
- Companies must acknowledge the #MeToo campaign and recognize that no company is immune.
- Seek advice and assistance to make certain that each claim which involves legal issues is handled with care and the assurance of confidentiality.