Workplace Sexual Harassment – We Owe It to Everyone to STOP IT NOW!
The media outrage of the moment, from Hollywood to Capitol Hill, is the apparent epidemic of sexual harassment in the workplace. While this uproar is undeniably appropriate, it also has the ring of the rather disingenuous line from Casablanca: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!” The media suggests that workplace sexual harassment was a dirty little secret, but those of us who are employment attorneys and HR professionals know this was no secret – never has been.
As employment professionals, our jobs require us to defend against harassment claims, particularly opportunistic money-grabs. But it is even more important to create an enlightened, proactive company culture that makes it unnecessary for aggrieved employees to resort to the courts. California employers can work toward achieving this result by simply doing what the law requires, including the following:
- If the employer has 50 or more employees, it must provide supervisors at least two hours of qualified classroom or similar interactive training every two years on the prevention and correction of sexual harassment. New supervisors must receive this training within six months after their start date.
- The employer must provide its employees with a written sexual harassment policy that is discussed regularly at meetings.
- In the event of an incident of sexual harassment, an employer must conduct a prompt and fair investigation, followed by a prompt and fair remedy.
While California’s regulations are extensive (perhaps unduly so), employers should heed the key admonition from the agency charged with enforcement of these regulations: “Buy in from the top. This means that management is a role model of appropriate workplace behavior, understands the policies, walks the walk and talks the talk.” Ultimately, good management requires treating each other with dignity and decorum – it’s good for our employees and it’s good for our bottom line.
This publication is for general informational purposes only. It is not meant to address specific factual and legal issues. Please consult your labor and employment counsel for any information related to a particular legal question or scenario.
John A Cone, Jr., Hall Griffin, Of Counsel