Workplace Harassment

To tell your employees that the company does not tolerate harassment is just not enough. It is crucial for the business to outline a clear policy that defines harassment. It must explain what can happen as a result of displaying such actions, as well as what one can do if they believe they have been victimized. This will help create an environment that is a healthy workplace for the individuals involved in the incident and the company in general.

In order for an anti-harassment policy to be effective, it must be comprehensive and
thoroughly dissected. It should consist of the following elements:
• Clearly explained policy. Prohibited conduct based on one’s race, age, sex, religion, etc. must be spelled out in easy-to-understand terms. All actions need to be in compliance with all local laws. It should also assure employees that they would not be legally retaliated against if they complain of harassment or serve as a witness to an investigation for another.
• Define the rights and responsibilities of the employer and employees with regard to harassment (e.g. Employer will put an end to harassment before it is in violation of federal law or employees must report any and all incidences of harassment before they become extreme.)
• Outline the process for complaints. Ensure this process promotes prompt, fair investigations and efficient corrective action if it is determined that harassment has in fact taken place.
• Guarantee employees that their confidentiality is protected when complaints are made.
• The policy should be posted in a public place for all employees to see. Employees should receive training on the policy, a hard copy as a resource, and made aware of any updates of the policy as they occur.

Regardless of the position one holds at their workplace, all employees have one thing in common—the desire to be safe. It is up to management as well as the company as a whole to ensure each workplace is a safe place to work in with regards to morale and physical safety. This will prove to be beneficial to the employer and employees.
When determining what is necessary for a healthy work place, an employer must
consider the following:

  • Have a firm grasp on why a healthy workplace is beneficial for employees and their families, the company and the community.
  • Clearly define your responsibilities of ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.
  • Design a detailed system for implementing a safe work environment.
  • Understand the laws and regulations that govern your business.
  • Address violations and take corrective action.
  • Encourage employees to give their input about how to create and maintain a safe and healthy environment.

Your organizations anti-harassment policy is only as good as the ones who develop, practice, and uphold it. This is why it is important for the management team of the company to make sure its entire staff thoroughly understands it, not just a select few.

How can this happen?

  1. Employers must provide their workers with a manual or some type of written material that plainly describes the policy, its definition, what it means for the workers, how they can promote it. What they should do if they are victimized by harassment, is one of the more important aspects.
  2. Understanding the diversity among individuals. Knowing that people learn in different ways and in order to absorb the information, they must be taught according to their style. While some learn best by reading, others require more dialogue, which can be obtained through face-to-face training or a personal meeting.
  3. There should be signs posted throughout the office in places such as the break room or
    copy center so the policy is reinforced without employees consciously thinking about it.
  4. Change happens. Laws change and these changes should be shared with everyone who is part of the company. Whether this is done through a mass e-mail, a continuing education course, or an updated version of the manual, the management team must find the most efficient way to inform workers of the new rules that have been set in place. This will not only help safeguard employers against discrepancies in the future, but it can also help everyone to fight to eliminate current issues of harassment or potential harassment.