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How employers can approach sexual harassment issues

Some New York employers might have an issue with sexual harassment in the workplace and not realize it. According to the results of one survey conducted by CareerBuilder, almost three-fourths of people who are sexually harassed at work never report it.

This failure to report harassment can ultimately hurt the employer. A pattern of misconduct can develop and the employer may be liable. Employers must make sure that they do not have a workplace culture in which employees believe they will face retaliation or will not be believed if they report harassment.

Employee engagement, a respectful management and the assurance that voices will be heard are all elements of a healthy workplace. Employers should expand their definitions of safety to recognize that it does not just focus on preventing accidents but also on ensuring employee well-being. Managers should have clear policies and a plan in place for investigations. Employees should be comfortable reporting offenses that may not necessarily be actionable, and they should have someone to report to who is not a direct supervisor.

Training should be specific to the workplace. For example, there will be different concerns on construction sites versus an office where employees have heavy contact with clients. More diverse workplaces generally have less harassment.

When an incident or pattern of sexual harassment is brought to the attention of an employer, the employer may want to contact an attorney to discuss how to proceed. It is critical that the employer take the accusations seriously regardless of whether there have been disciplinary or other issues with the employee. However, employers can also take steps to protect themselves before an accusation is made by talking to an attorney about how to avoid liability and create effective procedures.

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