Employers’ Responsibilities for Addressing Employees’ Sexual Harassment Complaints
Sexual harassment is the unlawful harassment or discrimination based on sex. Sexual harassment can occur between any working relationship, whether they are a coworker, supervisor, or client. Employers have the obligation to provide a safe working condition for their employees. Employers must understand the employment laws, give attention to employee complaints, and enforce their workplace policies. If you have been sexually harassed at the workplace and do not feel your employer is taking adequate action, you may want to contact an experienced discrimination lawyer. The legal team at Eric Siegel Law has proven experience representing clients who are victims of employment discrimination.
Employers need to understand federal and state laws about harassment and discrimination so they are able to appropriately address their employee complaints. The employer’s first responsibility is to review laws that are applicable to the employment relationship and to understand what establishes harassment and discrimination. By the employers doing this research, they will learn how to notice behavior that is considered inappropriate in the workplace as well as how to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.
It is the employer’s responsibility to create a written policy that explicitly states that sexual harassment is prohibited. This policy should then be included in the employee handbook, in which all employees must sign a form acknowledging they received the policy and that they agree with the policy they just read. Due to sexual harassment instances varying by circumstance, it is important that the policy explains that the discipline received by the harassing employee could depend on the circumstances.
In addition to writing out their sexual harassment policy, they also need to state the steps for an employee to take to report an act of sexual harassment. Usually, the first step is for an employee who has experienced or witnessed the sexual harassment to speak with their supervisor or manager. If they are unable to speak with their supervisor, or if the supervisor is the harasser, the employee should then speak with a different manager or go directly to human resources. If the harassment was reported to a supervisor or manager, it is their responsibility to report the harassment to human resources.
Employers are also responsible to hold managers and supervisors accountable for their involvement, actions, and behaviors related to sexual harassment. Since they are in a position of authority, supervisors are responsible for reporting and responding to any incidents involving sexual harassment. Should a supervisor turn a blind eye to or be involved in sexual harassment, they should be held liable.
Employers are obligated to investigate any employee complaints of sexual harassment immediately. They are responsible for listening to all complaints and determining how the complaint will be investigated. The employer will also have to contact the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will investigate the claim as well.