As a business owner, your primary goal isn't just to turn a profit — it's also to ensure that the work environment you provide your staff is safe. One possible threat to workplaces can be sexual harassment. Not only can this be difficult for the victim, but it can also leave you entangled in lawsuits that drain your bank account and energy. To successfully send a message that sexual harassment isn't welcome in your workplace, as well as show that you weren't negligent in the event of a suit, here are some simple steps that you must plan to take.
Not every employee will have a clear idea of what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace, and this can result in someone saying something or acting in a manner that is inappropriate. Education can go a long way toward curbing this type of behavior, so make it mandatory for your employees to attend sexual harassment training. There are many companies that provide this sort of training, so you can arrange to have an expert come in and lead your group through this discussion. When everyone has an understanding of what sexual harassment is, the risk of it should be lower.
Keep HR's Door Open
You never want your employees who feel as though they're victims of sexual harassment to not know how to proceed. If a lawsuit were to come in the future, it could be alleged that you weren't giving your employees the steps on how to handle being victimized. To this end, make sure that everyone knows that they can always speak to human resources about anything that is bothering them. Your HR department, even if it's just a single person, should always be ready to hear about anything from any employee — in a confidential manner, of course.
Have Zero Tolerance
You must also demonstrate that you have zero tolerance for those who sexually harass their colleagues. This can include termination upon the first offense if the offense is particular egregious. For lesser offenses, such as someone saying an off-color remark and then immediately apologizing, a verbal or written warning may occur. For things in between, sending the person home without pay or other such measures can all help to show your workforce that you don't tolerate sexual harassment — as well as demonstrating yourself to be proactive dealing with this issue, rather than negligent, in the event of future legal action.
If legal action is taken against your company, make sure you speak with a sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible to help you and your company handle this sensitive situation.