Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive issue that can cause significant harm to employees and businesses.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to create a safe and inclusive workplace free from harassment. In this article, we will provide tips for employers on how to prevent workplace sexual harassment and create a workplace culture that promotes respect, dignity, and equality.
If you need more assistance, reach out to a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer at Malk Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.
Understanding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Before we delve into the tips, it is essential to understand what constitutes workplace sexual harassment in California. Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment or results in adverse employment actions.
Sexual harassment can take many forms, including:
- Verbal harassment — making sexual comments, jokes, or innuendos
- Non-verbal harassment — staring, leering, or making gestures of a sexual nature
- Physical harassment — touching, grabbing, or brushing against someone’s body
- Sexual advances — propositions, or requests for sexual favors
Understanding what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace is crucial in preventing it from occurring. By recognizing and defining the different forms of sexual harassment, employers can take proactive steps to create a safe and inclusive workplace that values and protects all employees.
The Consequences of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Workplace sexual harassment can have severe consequences for both employees and employers. Employees who experience sexual harassment may suffer from emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and a decreased sense of self-worth.
Employers who fail to prevent workplace sexual harassment may face legal action, damage to their reputation, and financial consequences. Sexual harassment lawsuits can result in significant payouts, legal fees, and costs associated with defending against the allegations.
Additionally, workplace sexual harassment can damage the employer’s brand, leading to decreased customer loyalty and trust.
7 Tips for Preventing Workplace Sexual Harassment
Here are some tips for employers on how to prevent workplace sexual harassment and create a safe and inclusive workplace.
1. Develop and Enforce a Sexual Harassment Policy
Developing and enforcing a sexual harassment policy is the first and most crucial step in preventing workplace sexual harassment.
The policy should clearly define what constitutes sexual harassment, provide examples of prohibited behaviors, and outline the consequences of violating the policy. The policy should also include information on how to report sexual harassment and who to report it to, along with assurances that employees will not face workplace retaliation for making a report.
Training all employees on the sexual harassment policy is essential to ensure everyone understands what is prohibited and the consequences of violating the policy. Employers should also provide regular refresher training to ensure that all employees are up-to-date with any changes to the policy.
2. Create a Culture of Respect and Inclusion
Employers should promote a culture that values diversity, inclusivity, and equality for all employees. Encouraging employees to treat each other with respect and fostering an environment of inclusivity can help prevent sexual harassment from occurring.
Providing diversity and inclusion training can help promote awareness and understanding of different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Employers should encourage open communication and provide opportunities for feedback to ensure that all employees feel heard and valued.
3. Provide Multiple Reporting Channels
Reporting channels could include a hotline, email, or in-person reporting. Employers should make sure all employees know how to report sexual harassment and that they will be protected from retaliation for making a report.
Employers should also consider using third-party reporting mechanisms that allow employees to report anonymously. This can help increase the likelihood of employees reporting sexual harassment that they might otherwise not feel comfortable reporting.
4. Take All Reports Seriously
Taking all reports of sexual harassment seriously is crucial in preventing workplace sexual harassment. Employers should investigate all reports promptly and thoroughly and take appropriate action based on the investigation’s findings. Responding to the complainant with empathy and support can help prevent further trauma.
Employers should also prevent retaliation against the complainant or any witnesses. This could include separating the complainant and the accused, providing counseling services, or modifying work arrangements.
5. Hold Perpetrators Accountable
Employers should take appropriate disciplinary action, such as termination or suspension, when sexual harassment is substantiated. Communicating the consequences of the behavior to the rest of the workforce can also help prevent future incidents of sexual harassment.
Employers should also be careful to avoid protecting high-performing employees or those in positions of power who commit sexual harassment. Treating all employees equally and holding perpetrators accountable can help create a workplace culture of respect, inclusion, and equality.
6. Regularly Review and Update Policies
Regularly reviewing and updating sexual harassment policies is essential to ensure they remain effective and up-to-date with current laws and best practices.
Employers should solicit employee feedback to identify improvement areas and make changes as needed. Regularly reviewing and updating policies demonstrates the employer’s commitment to preventing sexual harassment and promoting a safe and inclusive workplace.
7. Get Help From an Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can have severe consequences for both employees and employers.
If you are an employee who has experienced sexual harassment, it’s crucial to seek help from an experienced employment lawyer. A sexual harassment lawyer at Malk Law Firm in Los Angeles can conduct investigations and help you take action to protect your rights.
Contact us today to discuss your next steps.