Sexual harassment is a serious issue that needs to be handled correctly once it is discovered. As an employer, it is important to take any claims of harassment seriously and to investigate the matter in-depth. However, it is also your responsibility to notice sexual harassment and put an end to it either through making the perpetrator go through sensitivity training or by terminating employment. Oftentimes, sexual harassment is a lot more subtle than you probably realize, so it is crucial to inform yourself about its various forms so that you can recognize it more easily.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo sexual harassment is a form of harassment where someone in a position of power over an employee offers incentives for certain behaviors. For example, a supervisor may offer a promotion to a subordinate but only on the condition that she goes on a date with him. In this case, she may lose out on a promotion if she does not submit, so she ends up going on a date. Promotions, raises and similar perks should only ever be awarded based on performance. If it comes to your attention that someone earned a benefit by submitting to sexual advances, then that matter needs to be investigated further.
The type of sexual harassment that most people are familiar with is the kind where a hostile environment is created due to one employee initiating sexual advances toward another worker. This is when an abusive environment is created due to someone’s behavior. This can include one employee telling dirty jokes that other workers find inappropriate. However, it can go much further than that. It can also involve spreading rumors about a certain employee that are of a sexual nature. Other examples include:
- Unwanted sexual advances, including inappropriate touching, hugging and kissing
- Repeatedly calling someone after hours about sexual matters
- Pressuring someone to go on a date or engage in sexual activities
Preventing Sexual Harassment in Your Workplace
Prevention is always preferable to dealing with an issue when it actually comes up. First, you should make sure your organization has a policy in place for how supervisors, human resources and the employer will handle claims of harassment. This involves making it abundantly clear that you will offer your full support to anyone who comes to you with a sexual harassment case. You do not want people to be hesitant to go to you when they are feeling harassed because they feel like they will not be believed or that they are the ones that will receive some form of repercussion.
There are various factors you as the employer or the court will need to determine the most appropriate action. These factors include:
- The severity and frequency of the behavior
- Context of the harassment
- The victim’s conduct
- Nature and size of the company
In order to effectively combat sexual harassment at your organization, you should dispel any myths you might have about the practice. One of the most common that still pervades numerous workplaces is that men will harass women even though women are completely capable of harassing men. You should also be mindful of same-sex advances where a woman harasses a woman or a man harasses a man. While most people will assume that managers and supervisors are more likely to harass those in a more subordinate position, this behavior can also occur from one co-worker to another or from a third-party client you deal with.
The laws regarding this matter vary from state to state, so you should do plenty of research to see if there is anything specific that should be done for your business. A sexual harassment lawsuit can become a severe detriment to your company, so do your best to prevent and deal with this issue on your own.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.