It is in the best interest of all employers to try to prevent harassment in the workplace.
Not only do employers legally have to prevent harassment in the workplace, but they should also want to so that no employee's productivity and morale drops drastically due to working in a hostile environment.
Additionally, if an employer does not prevent harassment in the workplace, they may also risk facing a lawsuit as a result. Employees are protected from harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Anyone in the workplace can be a victim of harassment. If employers take a few simple steps to prevent harassment in the workplace, they can create a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace environment that benefits everyone.
What steps should an employer or business owner take?
- Create a strict policy that explicitly states no tolerance for any kind of harassment and retaliation for complaints of harassment.
Lay out the groundwork for what disciplinary actions will take place if harassment is found to have occurred in the workplace.
Give a clear definition of what harassment is and provide examples of harassment that is not tolerated.
Create an easy process for victims of harassment to file a complaint and describe the investigation process. Let employees know what types of evidence they should keep. Also inform them of how to respond to any harassment or discrimination they may face. Provide tips on de-escalating situations.
- Once a year employees should go through training on harassment and discrimination.
Employees should learn and be reminded of what harassment and discrimination is, what is behavior and actions are prohibited in the workplace, what rights employees have, and how to file complaints of harassment.
Supervisors must be trained on how to deal with complaints, how to conduct investigations, and how to maintain a workplace free of harassment.
- Take every complaint seriously.
Investigate every complaint before they escalate into something more. Take the time to look more closely at your office dynamic and interview any employees that may be involved in the complaint or may have witnessed fowl behavior. Looking into the problem early on may solve the matter easily.
Some employees don't realize that certain behaviors of theirs are viewed as not acceptable by their coworkers and all they needed was to be informed of this and they will stop without further issue. Other employees conduct themselves in a certain way purposefully and will not stop and may need to be fired.