5 Ways to Prevent Workplace Harassment
According to the EEOC, employees should consistently demonstrate a commitment to creating and maintaining a workplace culture in which harassment is not tolerated. This should be part of an overall strategy that promotes diversity, inclusion, and a belief that all employees in a workplace deserve to be respected, regardless of their race, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), age, disability, or genetic information.
Because a workplace culture is manifested by which behaviors are formally and informally rewarded or punished, employers should demonstrate to their employees that they take workplace harassment issues seriously through appropriate responses to harassment and complaints. For example, employers should encourage employees to report harassing behavior and should acknowledge employees’ efforts to help maintain a harassment-free workplace. Ensure that individuals who engage in harassment receive prompt, consistent discipline that is proportional to the severity of the harassment.
Written Harassment Policies
Employers should establish a written harassment policy and communicate it to employees in a clear, easy-to-understand style and format. In addition, employers should make sure to:
Translate any policies into all languages commonly used by employees.
Provide all policies centrally, such as on the company’s internal website, in the company handbook, near time clocks, in break rooms, and in other commonly used areas or locations.
Review policies periodically and update them as needed.
Harassment Training Programs
Leadership, accountability, and strong harassment policies and complaint systems are essential components of a successful harassment prevention strategy, but only if employees are aware of them. Regular, interactive and comprehensive training of all employees may help ensure that employees understand an employer’s rules, policies, procedures and expectations, as well as the consequences of misconduct. Because supervisors and managers often have greater responsibilities than other employees than other employees, employers can benefit from providing additional training to these individuals.
Harassment Complaint Systems
Complaint systems should include a means by which individuals who have experienced harassment can report the harassment and file a complaint, as well as a method for employees who have observed harassment to report it.
Employees who are responsible for receiving, investigating, and resolving harassment complaints, or for otherwise implementing the harassment complaint system, play a significant role in shaping the effectiveness of a complaint system. Thus, employers should ensure that these individuals are well-trained, objective and neutral, and that they have the authority, independence and resources required to receive, investigate and resolve complaints appropriately.
Take all questions, concerns and complaints seriously, and respond promptly and appropriately.
Create and maintain an environment in which employees feel comfortable reporting harassment.
Appropriately document every complaint from initial intake to investigate to resolutions.
Use guidelines to weight the credibility of all relevant parties to complaint.
Prepare written reports documenting their investigations, findings, recommendations, any disciplinary actions imposed, and any corrective and preventive actions taken.