The U.S. government does not require businesses to set up sexual harassment policies under the law. However, it is still highly recommended that your business adopts a sexual harassment policy. These policies can prevent serious legal issues and costs. Without a sexual harassment policy, your company could face expensive lawsuits and your employees will lack important protections.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that is prohibited in the workforce under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This type of harassment can occur when someone makes unwanted sexual advances or asks for sexual favors.
Other types of physical and verbal conduct can be considered sexual harassment if they are sexual in nature and they:
- Impact someone’s employment.
- Lead to a work environment that is hostile, offensive, or intimidating.
- Interfere with someone’s performance at work to an unreasonable extent.
A few examples of sexual harassment in the workplace can include:
- Sexual pranks, jokes, or innuendo.
- Verbal or physical sexual abuse.
- Sexual touching or grabbing.
- Sexually suggestive gifts or gestures.
- The creation of pictures or cartons that are sexually demeaning or offensive.
Sexual harassers in the workforce can be male or female, as can victims of this type of abuse. Harassers may be supervisors, co-workers, or even people not employed by the company. This form of harassment does not necessarily involve any economic injury to the victim.
What Is A Sexual Harassment Policy?
Sexual harassment policies forbid certain forms of behavior in your workplace. These policies typically provide examples or definitions of behaviors that are not permitted in order to ensure they are easily understood.
These policies generally set out methods for employees to report any instances of harassment. This reporting system should:
- Protect employee confidentiality.
- Reassure employees that they won’t be punished for reporting harassment.
- Allow employees to report to someone outside of their chain of command.
A company’s sexual harassment policy can also be used to detail the way the company will respond to allegations of harassment. In general, any response to sexual harassment should be:
A well-designed sexual harassment policy should also address the consequences for harassment and the methods your company will use to ensure that the harassment stops.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides more information about anti-discrimination laws and can serve as an important resource when setting up these policies.
How Does A Sexual Harassment Policy Protect Your Company?
Workers in the United States are protected from discrimination and harassment by the law. This means that employees are legally able to sue individuals who harass them in the workplace. Victims of workplace harassment are also allowed to sue their place of business, which can end in the company paying significant punitive damages.
Sexual harassment policies can defend your business from these court cases. This is because your company’s liability will largely depend on the resources you provided to protect your employees from harassment. If you have policies in place that ensure harassing behavior will not be tolerated, you are far less likely to be faced with an expensive judgment.
How Can Your Company Set Up A Sexual Harassment Policy?
Sexual harassment policies can be complicated to set up. These policies require careful forethought and attention to detail to make sure all of your bases are covered. Your company will need to create procedures for employees to report instances of harassment as well as a structure for handling these complaints.
Once your sexual harassment policies and procedures are completed, they must be communicated to all employees. Your company must also carefully enforce these policies to ensure a safe and protected workplace environment.
Your company can get help making sure these policies are created and implemented properly by working with an experienced human resources outsourcing company. These companies can provide a la carte human resource services, such as statutory compliance services, including those related to sexual harassment policies. You can also hire this kind of company to handle all your other human resources needs.
We can leverage our 11 years of human resources experience into helping your company set up a sexual harassment policy that can protect both your employees and your business. Call us at 678-376-1212 or fill out the contact form to your right to find out how you can outsource your human resources needs to keep your focus on growing your business.