Fitzgibbons Law Offices - Casa Grande and Maricopa Lawyers

520-426-3824

 
 
 

Ed van Vianen, Casa Grande Litigation and Bankruptcy Attorney

 

Fitzgibbons Law Offices
1115 E. Cottonwood Lane
Suite 150
Casa Grande, AZ 85122

 

 
 
 

Employment Law

May 2018

Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Given the highly publicized charges of sexual harassment recently raised by employees against their supervisors and co-workers, employers are on notice to take a proactive approach to addressing the issue.

Today’s news is filled with attention-grabbing headlines and stories of workers who accuse their bosses and colleagues of sexual harassment. While much of the attention has been focused on high-profile perpetrators and victims from the sports and entertainment industries to the political arena, no workplace – whether in Hollywood or Casa Grande – is immune to the potentially devastating legal and financial consequences associated with a hostile work environment.

It is more important than ever for employers to take the initiative to keep harassing conduct out of their workplace and out of the news.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

One type of sexual harassment is known as quid pro quo harassment, where the employer explicitly or implicitly conditions a job, a job benefit, or the absence of a job detriment upon the employee’s acceptance of sexual conduct.

Another type of sexual harassment is known as hostile environment harassment, where the employer’s harassing conduct is severe and pervasive – i.e., frequent, physically threatening or humiliating – and unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.

THE HARASSER AND THE VICTIM

The harasser may be a man or a woman; a direct boss or a manager in another part of the company; a colleague; and even a non-employee, such as a customer or supplier.

Similarly, the victim may be a man or a woman, and can be the opposite or same gender as the harasser. The victim does not have to be the employee who is being harassed; he or she can be any co-worker who is affected by the offensive conduct.

The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome, and it generally must rise above a level of simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not truly serious.

EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITY

To help keep the workplace free of sexual harassment, and to reduce liability for any harassing behaviors that do occur, employers should have and enforce written sexual harassment policies that clearly communicate to employees that prohibited conduct will not be tolerated. Evidence of employer commitment in preventing sexual harassment might include doing the following:

• Provide harassment prevention training to managers, supervisors and other employees.

• Implement a complaint mechanism or grievance system that requires harassment reports to be channeled to multiple persons.

• Ensure that when an employee complains of harassing behavior, a properly trained person promptly investigates the complaint.

• In situations where an employer knows (or should know) of harassing conduct, take prompt and reasonable remedial action calculated to end the harassment.

• Keep records of harassment reports to ascertain whether a pattern of harassment exists.

CONCLUSION

Employers need to take a proactive approach to keep sexual harassment out of the workplace. By having and enforcing effective policies, employers can help eliminate the offensive conduct and protect their organization from potentially devastating consequences.

More about Fitzgibbons Law Offices' employment law services for employers and employees.