One of the most important responsibilities that employers are tasked with is the duty of ensuring that their employees are as safe as they can possibly be while in the workplace environment. Employers carry the legal duty of ensuring that no one who works for them is being harmed in any way, and the prevention of sexual harassment also comes under this duty of protection as well.
All employers in Massachusetts are required to make sure that there is no ‘quid pro quo’ harassment occurring and that there is no hostile work environment being created due to sexual mistreatment. Both these forms of harassment are illegal and if such behavior is occurring in the workplace and the employer does not take action to stop it or it is discovered that the employer did not have proper policies put in place, to begin with, they can be held legally accountable for the harm their employees suffered.
As long as the harassment occurred in the workplace, the employer will be questioned about it. Whether the harassment was carried out by fellow employees, supervisors, or even clients and patients, it is the employer’s responsibility to answer for it to a certain degree. If an employer has 6 or more employees, they must have a written policy regarding sexual harassment and this policy must be distributed to everyone in the workplace. The policy should explain in detail what sexual harassment is and the illegal nature of the act.
The employee should make it clear in their policy that they will conduct thorough investigations if any complaint of this nature is filed and that all members of the workplace are encouraged to report such behavior.
When an employer fails to act on a sexual harassment complaint in Massachusetts
If an employer fails to take proper action when hearing about a sexual harassment complaint, and the abuse continues due to their lack of care, then anyone in this situation is highly encouraged to connect with a lawyer who specializes in dealing with sexual harassment cases.
An attorney will inform a person of what rights they have, and they will give a person the legal help they need to hold the abuser and the employer accountable for allowing the abuse to continue. It can be difficult to speak out against such forms of abuse because of the sensitive nature of the complaint and because of how significantly a person’s work-life may be affected once the complaint is made. However, a person should not shy away from filing the complaint because it is their legal right, and they deserve to feel safe while attending to their work duties.