Companies in New York can take steps to protect themselves against harassment suits by strengthening their anti-harassment policies in a number of ways. For example, a policy should clearly state that reports can be made not just by people who are harassed but by those who witness harassment as well. Furthermore, employees should understand that work harassment is not always sexual in nature but could also be based on factors such as a person's religion, race and national origin.
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.
Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a major issue with film producer Harvey Weinstein facing allegations and a "me too" hashtag on social media in which people recount their own experiences with being sexually harassed. Among employees, there could be disagreement about what constitutes sexual harassment, and this could lead to problems for New York employers who are trying to develop a sexual harassment policy. Reuters/Ipsos conducted an online opinion poll from Dec. 13 to 18 and found that most people agreed that kissing and groping without consent was sexual harassment but were divided on other acts.
New Yorkers are likely aware of the numerous powerful men who have recently been accused of sexual harassment. According to reports, Andrew Kreisberg, the executive producer of such shows as "The Flash" and "Arrow," has been terminated from his job by Warner Bros. Entertainment after the company's investigation into sexual harassment allegations that were lodged against him.
How New York employers and others throughout the country handle sexual assault allegations could play a role in how the case proceeds. Companies that take such complaints seriously may limit their liability as well as the potential for backlash against the brand. The first step that a company may want to take is to hire an attorney who understands the legal issues that may arise because of such a claim.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees in New York and around the country from employers' retaliatory acts after reporting violations, like sexual harassment. An employer, however, must intend that actions punish someone for lawful conduct before suffering liability for retaliation.
Sexual harassment lawsuits may cost New York employers a lot of money. They may also act to tarnish a company's brand. Therefore, it is critical for employers to take steps to prevent such lawsuits from occurring. In some cases, it may be as easy as updating corporate policy related to sexual harassment in the workplace. All companies should have policies that are clear and that are in writing.
New York residents may heard about the former Google engineer who was terminated after posting a controversial memo online to a company forum. In the memo, the employee claimed that women were not as capable of being leaders in the tech industry compared to men. The memo also made comments about Google programs that are only open to minorities and women.