How to Handle Sexual Harassment Claims in the Workplace

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How to Handle Sexual Harassment Claims in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace include any "unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature." In addition, the behavior must be pervasive and it must affects working conditions to be considered sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is sex discrimination and regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC has the power to investigate claims of discrimination and can issue a "right to sue" to employees who claim.

By implementing sexual harassment policies, employers can prevent claims before they become expensive lawsuits.

Avoiding Sexual Harassment Claims between Employees and Supervisors

Supervisors are held to a different standard than other employees because they are in a position of power and control over their subordinates.

A supervisor shouldn't date a subordinate, but it does occur in the workplace and does not always lead to harassment claims.

Sexual discrimination claims can arise if a supervisor has intimate relations with a subordinate. Another employee may feel that the subordinate is getting preferential treatment. Supervisors should consider all parties affected by their decision to date an employee.

What Kind of Dating Policy Can I Use?

Employers should create an explicit dating policy to avoid legal headaches down the road. The policies most often used are:

Should I Terminate an Employee after an Incident of Sexual Harassment?

Make a full investigation if:

Until you’ve made a full investigation, avoid making any official actions.

The only exception is if one person hits, rapes, or attempts to hit or rape another person. In that case, call the police.

If you punish an employee too soon and without an accurate picture of the situation, you could face retaliation lawsuit. Employers should be forewarned that retaliation suits are much easier to prove than regular discrimination lawsuits.

Separate the employees in question, but make sure the separation is not inconvenient to their current job performance. Make sure you determine exactly who the harasser is before punishing anyone.

Do I Need an Employment Attorney?

Sexual harassment is a very serious issue. Harassment not only affects worker morale, but may also turn into a costly and lengthy legal battle.Consult an employment attorney immediately if sexual harassment is becoming a problem in your workplace.

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Last Modified: 10-09-2015 09:10 PM PDT

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