If a worker wants to file a sexual harassment claim against their employer, there is often more involved in the process than the average person realizes. Not only will the worker making the claim typically need evidence supporting their allegations that sexual harassment occurred, but they’ll also need to be able to reasonably make the claim that their employer permitted or even encouraged the harassment to occur.
One of the ways that companies allow an abusive sexual culture to dominate a workplace involves a failure to take basic steps to protect workers against sexual harassment. Companies that don’t take reasonable steps to protect their workers may incur liability when harassment occurs and goes unchecked.
How can employers reasonably act to prevent harassment in the workplace?
Through proper training and workplace reporting programs
Having a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment is a good starting point, but such policies are often meaningless words on paper if a company does not have a system in place to allow for comfortable and effective reporting of misconduct in the workplace. Even with those systems in place, a company could still be liable if workers don’t follow best practices. Ongoing training, especially for those in human resources and management, is important to a truly harassment-free workplace.
Through proactive responses
Companies that don’t respond appropriately when workers report sexual harassment could be responsible for any continued abuse that the worker endures due to their inaction. Examples may include when a worker reports that specific customers engage in inappropriate flirtation or unwanted touching but management neither relieves them of their duty to serve those individuals nor prohibits them from coming back.
Even when allegations are against members of senior management, the company should take every claim seriously and thoroughly investigate. When a company doesn’t train its workers about sexual harassment, fails to enforce its own policies or does not respond appropriately when workers speak up about sexual harassment, then the people affected by the misconduct occurring in the workplace may have caused to bring a claim against the company.
Seeking legal guidance to learn more about sexual harassment claims can benefit those who believe they may have experienced this very stressful form of workplace misconduct, as well as companies who want to prevent such misconduct from occurring.