As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to gain traction, the EEOC expects a serious rise in harassment claims in 2018 and now more than ever, business owners should take steps to ensure safety for their employees, managers, and customers.
Check out these tips from HR-Strategies on how to avoid a workplace harassment scandal:
Create and communicate clear policies: Companies are encouraged to create standards and policies that are more stringent than the established laws, which prohibit hostile/derogatory verbal or physical conduct, offensive comments or jokes, and any behavior that denigrates or shows hostility towards an individual based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, citizenship, and disability.
Make sure managers buy-in: By having top-down executive management buy-in, employees are more likely to respect and practice these policies. HR leaders should provide separate annual or bi-annual trainings for managers and employees and document participation.
Understand your liability: Even if the alleged victim never complains, an employer is liable for the harassment when the supervisor/manager becomes aware of an incident. By effectively handling a problem upfront, managers can protect their businesses from punitive damages, penalties, and lawsuits.
Thoroughly investigate every accusation: Employees should not have to go through a chain of command if they wish to file a complaint. Managers should use a third-party HR resource to assist and ensure due diligence, no matter how minute the incident may seem. This involves documentation of statements, corrective or disciplinary actions, and follow-ups. An effective investigation can provide grounds for minimizing employer liability through an affirmative defense.
For more information on HR consulting, training, and other PEO information, visit hr-strategies.com.