Three Steps That Will Help Prevent Sexual Harassment Problems

by Michael Haberman on February 27, 2012 · 4 comments

Here in the Atlanta area there is a murder trial underway that receives daily news coverage. Now you may be wondering what that has to do with sexual harassment. Bear with me. I will be giving you three steps that will help you prevent sexual harassment problems.

The case involves a man accused of gunning down the husband of a woman with whom he worked. The speculation, indeed what the prosecution is trying to show, is that the two co-workers were romantically involved and that is why the male co-worker killed the husband. Now I am not going to “try” the case here in my post, but the woman, in her testimony claimed that she was not romantically involved with her co-worker/boss. She claimed in her testimony that she was actually the victim of sexual harassment. When challenged why she had never reported this to anyone at work her response was that she was relatively new to the company and she knew that as a new employee reporting sexual harassment would put her job in jeopardy. So she did not. Prosecutors question the veracity of her statements but I want to talk about what she said and make it a warning tip for companies.

No employee should be afraid to report harassment, sexual or otherwise, just because of the length of their tenure with the company. A company should always make it clear to all employees to report harassment at any time it occurs. This is particularly true, however, with new employees. This will be a time when they are most vulnerable to harassment. Their newness in the organization may make them a target for harassers who have not perhaps had a “new body” to pay attention to. Proactive HR departments know that they are held to a standard in harassment cases of “knew or should have known.” In the case of a new employee HR should be more alert for the possibility of harassment, whether it is intentional or unintentional, because of the change in company dynamics with the introduction of new employees.

So here are three steps that will help save you sexual harassment problems when new employees are introduced into the company mix:

Step One

With any new employee emphasize, in their introduction and orientation, the company’s harassment policy. Make it clear to them how and to whom they should report harassment. Make it clear to them that are also protected from retaliation from making any report of harassment.

Step Two

Be aware of what is occurring with new employees. Pay extra special attention to the relationships and interactions the new employees is engaging in with others. Be alert to early signs of trouble, such as quickly arising attendance problems.

Step Three

Immediately investigate any reports of harassment. Document the results of your investigations and take corrective action as needed.

This proactive approach to heading off harassment problems will pay off.

What other tips should be included?

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