Sexual harassing is a form of gender discrimination that creates an abusive, hostile, and intimidating work environment to its target. This act usually involves physical or verbal conduct that is sexually offensive, unwelcome sexual advances, and request for sexual favors in exchange of employment rewards.
Contrary to popular belief, men can also be targets of sexual harassment discrimination. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 16 percent of sexual harassment cases in the workplace were filed by male workers in 2007. However, this percentage is lower compared to lawsuits filed by women who are traditionally perceived as the victims of such abuses.
Avoiding Lawsuits: Responsibilities of Employers
According to federal law, employers have the legal responsibility to protect workers from any form of harassment, discrimination, and other abusive act. Failing to do so will make them liable for a sexual harassment claim and lawsuit.
Sexual Harassment Training
To prevent sexual harassment, several states including California, have a sexual harassment training law that require companies to give trainings and programs to employees to tackle these issues. Occupational psychologists believe that this approach is effective since harassment and discrimination are often rooted in ignorance.
In a recent study conducted by the Society for Human Resource, 62 percent of US employers provide their workers with prevention training programs that tackle the issue of gender discrimination at work and sexual harassment in the workplace while another 97 percent provide written sexual harassment guidelines to deter workers from doing malicious conduct.
Sexual Harassment Complaints
Furthermore, employers should also establish a complaint process where victims can report any discriminatory act, offensive conduct, and harassment incidents to the company.
Sexual Harassment Policy
According to employment lawyers, establishing a complaint process and having a written sexual harassment policy provide a two-way benefit: employees can work in a safe environment and employers can avoid legal claims and lawsuits.
Liability for Sexual Harassment Claims
While employers are liable for any incident of harassment and discrimination, they can avoid lawsuits if they have a sexual harassment policy and a complaint process in which the victim unreasonably failed to use.
However, sexual harassment policies should clearly define the meaning of sexual harassment and should explicitly show that the company will not tolerate such offensive and abusive conduct.
The policy should also include entries such as:
- procedure on filing a sexual harassment complaint
- how will the company conduct its investigation, and
- the consequences and penalties for harassers.
- This guide is provided for informational purposes only. Please talk to Rodney Mesriani, or a Sexual Harassment Attorney near you for help with a specific case.