5 Steps to Limit Liability for Sexual Harassment at Work

Employment Law

5 Steps to Limit Liability for Sexual Harassment at Work

Mar 16, 2018 | Employment Law

A previous blog post discussed sexual harassment in the workplace in the age of the #MeToo Movement. This post discusses steps that an employer can take to avoid liability for harassment, or at least minimize legal exposure.

  1. Have a Sexual Harassment Policy

An employer should have a clearly articulated sexual harassment policy that:

  • expressly prohibits sexual harassment and assault in the workplace;
  • defines and provides examples of harassment;
  • establishes the scope of the policy in relation to employees and third parties; and
  • establishes a complaint procedure for victims or observers to report sexual harassment claims.
  1. Provide Training

An employer should train all employees, including but not limited to supervisors, on  harassment and the employer’s procedure for reporting harassment. Online programs are available, although in-person training is often more effective.

  1. Investigate Allegations

While employment law does not require a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment in the workplace, an employer should take allegations of harassment seriously by:

  • conducting a prompt, thorough, and objective investigation of complaints;
  • if warranted, taking prompt and appropriate remedial action in response to complaints; and
  • explaining the outcome to the accuser and the accused.
  1. Avoid Retaliation

An employer should not retaliate or take adverse employment action against an employee who reports harassment, even if the employer’s investigation does not conclusively find that harassment occurred.

  1. Establish a Workplace Dating Policy

An employer may consider adopting a workplace dating policy. At a minimum, such a policy should require that employees who are dating or otherwise engaged in a sexual relationship conduct themselves in a business-like manner at all times in the workplace. It should also likely prohibit supervisors from dating subordinates and articulate a procedure for reporting workplace dating relationships.

At Bean, Kinney & Korman, we are available to draft or review sexual harassment policies, conduct sexual harassment seminars, conduct investigations of sexual harassment allegations, and provide general advice on harassment to clients.


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