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Preventing sexual harassment in the workplace

Take a look at how employers can prevent sexual harassment from occurring in their organizations.

Sexual harassment is still an ongoing issue for many workplaces in California even though there are laws in place to prevent it. As such, it is the responsibility of employers to take proactive measures that protect their workers from this form of abuse.

Training employees on what sexual harassment is

One of the first responsibilities of employers is to train all of their employees on what constitutes harassment that is sexual in nature. According to The Balance, these actions include the following:

  • Continued requests for sexual favors and romantic attention, including dates and other actions that indicate some form of attachment or affection
  • Displaying and sharing correspondence through emails, posters, photos and text messages that embarrass and offend others in a sexually offensive manner
  • Inappropriate and unwanted sexual advances that may or may not interfere with one's ability to move about the workplace freely
  • Use of suggestive and provocative music, comments, clothing and other offensive behavior and materials in the workplace
  • Unsolicited and unwanted sexual attention, flirtation, conversations, touches and gestures

It is important for employers to educate their employees during orientation and regularly throughout their tenure to keep them properly informed about sexual harassment, how the law applies to it and how it will not be tolerated.

Creating and enforcing policies

Business owners should implement zero-tolerance sexual harassment policies that are updated regularly so that they reflect the latest changes in the law, states the HR Daily Advisor. These policies should clearly outline the types of language, materials and behaviors that are not acceptable, nor appropriate for the workplace.

In addition to making it known that sexual harassment is not acceptable, employers should scan all employee emails, text messages, and other forms of electronic and verbal communications regularly for offensive material and content. They should make sure the lines of communication are completely open and clear to encourage their workers to properly address their peers and engage in inappropriate work behavior at all times. All related policies should be geared towards maintaining a positive and healthy work environment for everyone and providing swift, thorough and appropriate investigation and follow-up of all complaints.

Employee handbooks need to contain detailed information on what sexual harassment is, how to recognize it, how to deal with it and how to prevent it. They should also include specific information on actions workers can take if they feel they are being discriminated against. Companies should include restrictions to discourage employees in supervisory and management positions from dating lower level employees. Employers should also encourage all victims of sexual harassment to come forward, and provide protections that prevent retaliation for victims.

When employers fail to establish a strong stance against this type of behavior, employees can become victims. Sexual harassment can leave employees dealing with psychological and mental pain. They therefore, may find it beneficial to discuss their situation with an attorney so they can better understand their rights.

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