A company that grows beyond fifteen employees must make sure that their sexual harassment policies are in line with federal employment law. Employers must craft anti-harassment policies and make sure all employees understand what sexual harassment is and that it is prohibited. Employees must also know how they can file a complaint and these complaints must be followed up on. An employer should realize that even if they follow the rules, they can still be held liable for their employees’ bad behavior.
Last week, a jury awarded a record-breaking amount of damages to a woman who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer, Aaron’s Inc. Aaron’s argued that it explicitly prohibited sexual harassment in the workplace and definitely did not condone the behavior of the former manager. Even though they did everything they were supposed to do, they were still held liable for what happened in their business.
A recent blog post by Victoria Pynchon on Forbes Woman discusses what a business can do to prevent sexual harassment beyond basic anti-harassment training. Since an employer might still be held liable for a manager’s behavior, the company should do all it can to make sure that the harassment does not happen. The company should also create a workplace where open communication is encouraged and fostered.
One thing employers can do writes Pynchon, is to train female employees to be better at speaking up and being assertive when they feel they are being harassed or when a male colleague’s behavior is making them uncomfortable. Male employees can also be better trained to hear these statements, to listen to what is being said and stop the behavior.