Harassment policies and small businesses

2018 was a year that brought to light workplace harassment issues more than ever.  Now, people are aware of workplace harassment. People come forward and report issues. Harassment in the workplace has never been acceptable, but it has often gone ignored by business owners in the past. This can no longer be the case in today’s business environment. As a business owner, you must react quickly to any and all reports.  You must also prevent future incidents in your workplace. In today’s business world, ignoring harassment in your company will result in negative publicity and lawsuits.  Instead, business owners must be willing to proactively protect their employees or face expensive consequences. So far, in 2018 alone:
  • The EEOC filed 66 harassment lawsuits, including 41 that included allegations of sexual harassment. That reflects more than a 50 percent increase in suits challenging sexual harassment over fiscal year 2017.
  • In addition, charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment increased by more than 12 percent from fiscal year 2017.
  • Overall, the EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for the victims of sexual harassment through litigation and administrative enforcement in FY 2018, up from $47.5 million in FY 2017.
Employers big and small must step forward and make sure that workplace harassment stops.  There is no excuse for a failure to properly train and monitor your workplace for potential predators. The costs to your business goes far beyond lawsuits. Although just one lawsuit could ruin your business, you must consider the costs of reputation, productivity, and employee morale as well. The best thing you can do for your business is to establish clear and specific harassment policies, provide consistent training, and carefully investigate any and all claims. For more resources and assistance, check out our tips on writing policies and procedures. Additionally, make sure you establish a good training program for your employees.  To get started, you can check out the EEOC Training Institute.

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