Denver, CO-Many businesses realize the troubles they face when an employee files a sexual harassment complaint. When a company receives a complaint, they must investigate the complaint and appropriately discipline a harasser of allegations prove to be true. One of the effective ways to avoid complaints of sexual harassment is for a business to develop a “zero-tolerance anti-harassment policy.

Businesses with less than 15 employees are not required by federal law to have a sexual harassment policy, but it is advisable for every company, regardless of their size, to develop a policy. Having a sexual harassment policy could help prevent incidents or harassment and discrimination.

What Is An Effective Sexual Harassment Policy?

An effective sexual harassment policy should adequately explain what sexual harassment is and inform their employees of how to report any incidents they witness or are subjected to.

What is Sexual Harassment? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as any unwanted comments or touching that sexual in nature. There are two categories of sexual harassment; quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo harassment is a type of sexual harassment in which a supervisor promises favors such as a pay raise of a promotion in exchange for sexual favors.

The second type of sexual harassment is “hostile work environment.” For this type of harassment is more difficult to prove and some people may be unaware of they are engaging in this behavior. A hostile work environment typically entails unwelcome sexually suggestive comments, remarks or jokes, unwanted touching and sexual advances on the part of a coworker, supervisor or customer.

What should be included in a sexual harassment policy?

According to EEOC guidelines an effective anti-harassment should include:

  • A clear explanation of conduct that is prohibited.
  • An assurance that any employees who make a complaint or participate in an investigation of a complaint will be shielded against retaliation.
  • A clear explanation of the complaint process.
  • Complaint process that provides prompt, thorough and impartial investigation.
  • An assurance that the employer will take immediate and appropriate disciplinary action should an investigation determine that harassment has occurred.

Simply developing an anti-harassment policy is not enough; an employer should also hold sexual harassment training and regularly remind employees of the policy. Anti-harassment policies should be included in the employee handbook.  Many companies require their employees review the anti-harassment policies on an annual basis. Any new employee should be informed of the policy.

When an employer receives a sexual harassment complaint they should investigation the allegations immediately without delay. An investigation can be conducted by one of the company’s employees or by a employment lawyer that specializes in employment law such as a sexual harassment attorney. If an investigation shows the harassment allegations true and employer can avoid liability if they take corrective actions against the harasser.

A sexual harassment complaint can be vexing for a business and they could face costly lawsuits of they don’t address allegations. A sexual harassment policy won’t prevent all incidents, but it can make it clear to employees that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated.