Great Ideas for your Small Business:
Take Your Sexual Harassment Policy Seriously
In june 1997, a federal jury awarded $6.6 million to a woman who was subjected to regular sexual taunts from her coworkers at a car dealership.
Sexual harassment is serious business. That’s why even the smallest company should have a written policy in place, according to Lawrence Rogak, an Oceanside, New York, attorney who specializes in the subject. According to federal regulations, a company is responsible for sexual harassment in the workplace “where the employer (or its agents or supervisory employees) knows or should have known of the conduct.”
If you think telling sexual jokes or touching employees is funny, it’s not. Of all working women, 40 to 60 percent have reported being subjected to some sort of sexual harassment on the job, according to the American Psychological Association. Complaints from men or women on your payroll should never be taken lightly. The last thing you need is an expensive and time-consuming lawsuit.
Here are some tips from Rogak and others:
- Draft and distribute a clear policy prohibiting sexual harassment at your company. Ask employees to acknowledge in writing that they have received and read it and understand the ramifications of violating it.
- Document any sexual harassment complaints in writing. Create a paper trail that contains details of the alleged event.
- Question any witnesses to the alleged event and document their account.
- Consult an experienced attorney if your employee threatens to file a formal complaint.
- Remember, under federal law, an employer is automatically liable for an employee’s behavior in the workplace, unless you can prove that you wrote and distributed a policy prohibiting sexual harassment.