Best Practices for Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

  • Posted by: Karen Booher |
  • 12/4/18 |
  • 8:00 AM
  • 78 Views
Best Practices for Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

J. Kent Staffing is pleased to share this white paper authored by LaRona Mondt, Esq. and Wayne Penebaker, Esq., corporate attorneys with Messner Reeves LLP. Messner Reeves is a Denver-based full service business law firm.

Under federal law, employers have a duty to prevent and correct instances of harassment in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has provided guidance for employers on best practices for preventing and addressing sexual harassment.

EEOC Core Principles:

The EEOC identified core principles which have proven effective for addressing harassment in the workplace. Incorporating the principles, employers should:

  • Create a culture of consistent accountability and committed and engaged leadership;
  • Create and enforce strong and comprehensive harassment policies;
  • Create and enforce trusted and accessible complaint procedures; and
  • Mandate regular and interactive trainings for employees, supervisors and leadership.

Following the guidance of the EEOC, many employers have already begun applying these principles with the aim of creating a safer work environment. While adoption of these principles are not yet required under Colorado or federal law, their application will improve sexual harassment prevention and will increase compliance with federal employment discrimination laws.

Implementation:

Implementing the EEOC’s core principles begins with the leadership of the company. Senior leaders must create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated. With this support from leadership, employers should develop an extensive anti-sexual harassment policy.

  • The policy should include easy to follow complaint procedures that ensure all employees are able to report an incident of sexual harassment without fear of retribution.
  • The policy should be reduced to writing and distributed to employees upon adoption, upon hire, upon amendment, and at least once annually.
  • To improve a policy’s effectiveness, employers should require employee participation in annual trainings which educate employees on the definition of harassment, review the established policy, and walk through the complaint procedures.
  • Employers should consider having separate trainings for supervisors and managers to emphasize the culture against harassment and the unique roles and obligations supervisors have in this area.
  • In addition, employers should direct their human resources department or other personnel to actively review and manage harassment prevention strategies.
  • Finally, employers must impose discipline in a prompt, consistent, and proportionate manner to address and deter instances of sexual harassment.
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