Over the past several months, we have seen high-powered, A-list celebrities and public officials toppled by allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. Many of these cases involved powerful men taking advantage of their positions to harass and assault subordinates, while being insulated from any repercussions due to their status.
But it’s not just Hollywood and the rich and famous who have to deal with these problems on a daily basis. If the #MeToo movement and TIME magazine naming “The Silence Breakers” as its “person of the year” have taught us anything, it’s that this is a problem pervasive in workplaces across America. Victims are no longer afraid to speak out.
All employers must maintain an environment that is safe for their employees. As part of this, employers must implement sexual harassment policies that are clear as to what is and is not appropriate for the workplace. Examples of unacceptable behaviors include unwanted sexual advances, physical or verbal conduct that is sexual in nature and requests for sexual favors.
For the policy to be truly effective, it must go beyond merely prohibiting such behavior. Offensive flirtations, sexual jokes and teasing and a display of sexually suggestive materials should also be banned.
Employers must also be sure to clarify which types of interactions are allowable. For example, a policy should still make room for socially acceptable compliments and consensual social relationships. The primary goal of any sexual harassment policy should be to entirely eliminate any behavior or conduct that is hostile, intimidating, unwelcome and/or offensive.
Finally, there should be clear, easy-to-follow procedures for reporting violations and enforcing consequences. There must be a secondary reporting mechanism in case the person who would normally handle the report is involved in the alleged harassment as either the victim or the perpetrator.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or are aware of these issues in your workplace, contact a knowledgeable Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers to learn more about your options.