U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sexual harassment lawsuits have increased by more than 50 percent this year, affecting a wide range of industries nationwide.
The EEOC recovered $70 million total for employees alleging sexual harassment, an increase from $47.5 million last year.
With these harrowing statistics in mind, what can employers do to increase awareness and prevent incidents of harassment in the workplace?
Here are 5 prevention takeaways:
1. Clear Policy
Establish a clear sexual harassment policy which is communicated, explained and enforced. After decades of being mostly silent on sexual harassment and discrimination, employees are speaking up – and taking action. Here’s how can you protect your employees and your company.
Task managers and supervisors with fostering a culture where harassment won’t be tolerated. Respond to reported conduct promptly and consistently while keeping all parties informed and ensuring confidentiality.
Clearly communicate that harassment is prohibited in your organization. Create policies that are comprehensive, easy to understand, and regularly communicated to all employees.
Include the policy in company publications such as your website and employee handbook and post it in central locations, such as near time clocks, in break rooms and in other common areas.
Provide initial training for new hires and ongoing updates for existing employees. Train employees on the reporting process for victims and witnesses. Encourage employees to come forward to report harassment that they experience or witness.
Clearly describe prohibited conduct, including examples if possible. Teach employees the process to file a complaint or where to obtain clarifying information.
4. Effective harassment training includes:
- Buy-in from senior leadership
- Regular repetition and updates
- All levels of employees
- Clear, easy-to-understand wording and presentation
- Languages employees speak
- Company and industry specific details
- Qualified, live, interactive trainers
- Active engagement of participants
- Regularly updated content
Create and maintain an environment where employees feel comfortable reporting harassment to management. Keep the identities of individuals who report harassment, alleged victims, witnesses and alleged harassers confidential.
Explicitly express that those who report harassing conduct, participate in investigations or take other actions protected under federal employment discrimination laws, will not be subjected to retaliation.
Be sure that individuals handling harassment complaints have the resources, training and authority to handle them effectively.
Assure reporting parties you will investigate promptly, impartially and thoroughly. Document every complaint, from initial notification through investigation and resolution. Prepare a written report detailing the investigation, findings, recommendations and any disciplinary action imposed, or corrective and preventative action taken.
For more detailed information, visit the EEOC website.
How TERRA Can Help You
If you need HR advice or help adding to your team, contact the professionals at TERRA Staffing. Our recruiters are experts in employment policies and help employers build a strong and compliant workforce.
Contact us today to learn more about our recruitment and HR services in Seattle, Portland and Phoenix.