It Doesn’t Take a Harvey Weinstein to Bring Down Your Organization
The dawn of each new day brings with it new allegations of improper sexual misconduct in the workplace. Accusations have not been isolated to a specific industry as celebrities, media personalities, government officials and business leaders have all been thrust into the public discussion of what is and what is not acceptable workplace behavior.The #MeToo Era is Here. Is your Employment House in Order?
Employers need to appreciate that heightened awareness of workplace harassment has created an environment ripe for claims against the company, its executives and managers.
Since 2010, employers have paid out $698.7 million to employees alleging harassment through the EEOC’s administrative enforcement pre-litigation process alone. [*] This figure does not include the cost of private settlements or matters litigated through the courts. Needless to say workplace harassment is a harsh, unavoidable and costly reality for employers.Allegations or Harassment, Even if Unfounded or Proven False, Can Be Devastating to a Business.
Employers can expect to see a continued rise in complaints concerning sexual harassment. Although no guidelines can define sexual harassment with complete clarity, unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, innuendo, suggestive comments, sexually oriented kidding, teasing or practical jokes among many other behaviors can fall within scope of workplace harassment.How Can Employers Protect Themselves Against Liability From Claims of Sexual Harassment?
Employers need to create and support an active anti-harassment workplace environment that includes policies and procedures that include training, reporting and investigating claims of workplace harassment. Anti-discrimination laws provide a “safe harbor” for employers that in some cases will afford protection to businesses who take the following preventative measures:
- Adopt a written anti-harassment policy
- Establish procedures for reporting workplace harassment
- Conduct regular training
- Investigate complaints of harassment
- Implement corrective action for violations
Harassment Training Services The Employment group of Lindabury McCormick regularly provides its clients and their employees with training that covers all federal and state employment laws governing workplace harassment and discrimination. Employees are educated about the laws prohibiting workplace harassment and retaliation; trained to recognize actions which may constitute harassment and retaliation; and provided guidance as to the necessary steps to be taken should they be victimized or witness these prohibited behaviors in the workplace.
The responsibility of management personnel in preventing, documenting and investigating harassment and retaliation claims in the workplace, as well as the potential for individual liability for those managers who engage in these activities, are also covered in the training.
Harassment Investigation Services When claims of workplace harassment are made, clients rely on Lindabury’s expertise to quickly develop a plan to conduct an impartial, third-party internal investigation of the claim. This process provides employers with invaluable protection against claims that the investigation was undertaken by an unqualified or partial individual who failed to adequately address the allegations. Moreover, in the event of litigation our investigators are fully prepared to defend the adequacy of all the steps undertaken in the course of the investigative process.Clients to Whom We Provide Training and Investigative Services
- Private corporations
- Public agencies
- Regional law firms
- Non-profit entities
- Private and public educational institutions
- Food service providers
- Physician practices
[*] Report of the Co-Chairs of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace