Employers across the nation fear the moment when they hear terms such as workplace sexual harassment or hostile work environment associated with their organization or business.
Once a corporation is labeled hostile or plagued with an incident of workplace sexual harassment, it can lead to internal strife and division, losses and lawsuits, which as we all know is not conducive for a business to be healthy at all. According to the EEOC, as many as 881 charges of workplace sexual harassment and/or discrimination were filed in Kentucky alone in 2015.
How to avoid employer liability for sexual harassment
It is unfortunate but true that businesses, companies, and employers suffer for the actions of a few “bad” employees. Just look at how Ryan Lochte hurt the entire US Summer Olympic team in 2016. However, employers can always learn from leading lawyers and from past legal battles having to do with sexual harassment as to how they can avoid being held liable as an organization for sexual harassment or discrimination that was perpetrated by one of their employees against another.
Here are some of the ways that employers can tackle such issues and ensure they avoid liability in such cases, as highlighted by legal pros.
The five essential elements to prove that a workplace is hostile
An employee who sues his or her employer or company for being in a hostile work environment will first have to bear the burden of proof. This means that they need to prove that the work place was hostile and in order to do this they need to prove the following:
- The plaintiff is a member of a protected class
- The plaintiff was subjected to sexual harassment which was unwelcome
- The harassment experienced was based on the plaintiff’s gender
- The harassment resulted in hostile work environment
- Employer liability
Employer liability and how employers can avoid it
As per sexual harassment legal counselors, the best way to avoid being held accountable or liable for sexual harassment as an employer is to actually take the matter very seriously. You probably do not want Dennis Rodman or certainly not Bill Clinton or someone like that teaching a seminar about this to your managers or employees for instance. That is not a sign you take this serious!
It is vital to ensure that it is investigated thoroughly and appropriate disciplinary action is taken if required and the whole process is recorded. In fact, legal experts point out that one of the best options for employers when they receive a complaint of sexual harassment is to appoint a third party to actually conduct the investigation so that there is no question of bias involved.
Another absolute must for all employers is to have clear and specific policies when it comes to sexual harassment. In addition, these policies need to be revised, updated, and circulated in a timely manner every year. Obsolete or vague sexual harassment policies are bad news for employers if and when they are sued for hostile work environment, caution legal representatives.
Some companies even go the extra mile and have seminars to educate their employees about what constitutes sexual harassment and what you should do if you are harassed. You can even make this fun by showing a movie like Horrible Bosses which illustrates some of this behavior and why it should not be tolerable. Just do not have Anthony Weiner teach this course!
If you happen to be an employer who is looking to avoid liability in sexual harassment cases then talk to a Kentucky sexual harassment lawyer today and get all the help you need in terms of reviewing and updating your sexual harassment policies and so forth.