Harassment and discrimination can cause disruption in the workplace, lower employee morale, and could even result in a costly lawsuit.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that employers can be found liable for harassment and discrimination claims, even if the employer wasn’t directly aware that harassment and discrimination were occurring in the workplace.
Harassment can include any verbal, written, or physical act that makes employees uncomfortable at work or interferes with their ability to perform their jobs. It can include jokes, emails, cartoons, drawings or other material that is suggestive or reflects negatively on a protected class. It can include slurs or offensive language.
As an employer, you can be held accountable for all forms of unlawful discrimination and harassment, so it pays to have a proactive policy to protect your business and your employees. Here are some ways you can begin to address the issue:
- Create a harassment and discrimination prevention policy: Make sure employees know that you will not tolerate harassment or discrimination. Distributing a formal written policy outlining your commitment to a harassment and discrimination-free workplace is a good way to start. Make sure you and your managers demonstrate that you believe the policy is important.
- Outline steps employees should take: Your policy should also include a reporting procedure for employees who feel they are being harassed or discriminated against. It is important to make sure the method is clear, easily accessible, and confidential.
- Conduct a thorough investigation: An immediate investigation is imperative to protecting your employees and business. Once a complaint has been submitted, an objective and confidential investigation should be completed. Retaliation should not be tolerated. If it is determined that unlawful harassment has taken place, disciplinary action commensurate with the severity of the offense should be taken.
Contact your Leavitt Group insurance advisor to learn more about implementing a harassment and discrimination prevention policy.