Bergman Dacey Goldsmith

310-470-6110

How smart businesses protect themselves against harassment claims

Many successful businesses have to worry about the potential for a lawsuit by a current or former employee damaging both their profit margin and their reputation within the community in which they operate.

Harassment and discrimination lawsuits could do a lot of damage to your business, which is why any company that has any number of employees should have proactive policies in place to prevent an instance of discrimination or harassment from occurring at the business. They usually also have plans in place in case someone does experience harassment while at work.

As an employer, there are certain things that you can do that can drastically reduce the likelihood of harassment at your business and the potential for it to go unaddressed.

Talk about discrimination and harassment in your employment contracts

One of the problems that companies can have is an inability to take decisive action against staff members who discriminate against or harass others at work. Your best option to protect your company will be to include a clause in your employment contract that forbids any discriminatory behaviors, including any form of harassment.

By including it in your contract, you can make it a fireable offense, which makes it easier for you to address the issue and prevent ongoing harassment from affecting workplace morale among your staff.

Each staff member should have training on harassment and sensitivity

Too many people think that ending harassment in the workplace means ending employee get-togethers or keeping people from telling jokes. It is only offensive and inappropriate humor or interactions that businesses have to worry about.

Providing staff members with training that helps them identify both discriminatory behavior or patterns of harassment in other people as well as internal tendencies toward discrimination can reduce the likelihood of harassment becoming an issue in your workplace. Ensuring that each staff member undergoes the training also helps you comply with important employment laws and shows a no-tolerance policy toward discrimination or harassment.

Create a clear reporting structure and bypass method

All too often, those dealing with harassment in the workplace don't feel comfortable coming forward because their direct supervisor is part of the problem. Creating a separate reporting hierarchy that does not directly include managers, team leaders and others in supervisory roles can make it easier for people to speak up about mistreatment.

Usually, members of the human resources department can fulfill harassment and discrimination reporting needs. You may even want to institute a secondary procedure in case members of human resources involved in your chain of reporting are among those accused of harassment.

Businesses have different needs, which is why it is of utmost importance to consider the culture at your company and the potential for harassment in different scenarios when strategizing on how to protect your company in the future.

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