Employer’s Guide: Beyond Compliance

Obviously, employers need to comply with state and state laws regarding harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace. But aside from being the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do: Being proactive in keeping workers safe from workplace misconduct actually helps a company’s bottom line. Employees’ productivity and morale increase when employers create a comfortable culture where everyone can thrive. So it’s important for employers to move beyond being reactive, and start being proactive in addressing workplace culture.

Recommendations from the EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) urges employers to give clear assurances that employees who make complaints or who support complaints will be protected against retaliation. It also recommends that employer be decisive when harassment occurs and issue corrective action when unacceptable behaviors are discovered.

Here are five ways company’s can to improve the culture at work:

  1. Create a well-defined policy on sexual harassment that includes examples of prohibited behavior. Incorporate the policy into the employee handbook and regularly train and engage employees with the content using different methods.
  2. Establish a complaint procedure that identifies HR professionals designated to document and investigate complaints. Explain the investigation process and offer examples of proportionate corrective actions that may result at the conclusion of an investigation.
  3. Conduct regular climate surveys to ascertain the existing climate of inclusion and identify potential areas for growth. Make sure to keep these surveys anonymous.
  4. Empower bystanders. Provide training that give employees the skills necessary to intervene when appropriate and report harassing behavior. Create a culture where all employees are invested in maintaining a workplace climate that is free from discrimination.
  5. Model good behavior and require that leadership at all levels exemplifies a culture that is inclusive and values employees. Although leadership and accountability starts with senior executives, mid-level managers and direct supervisors are key elements in establishing and enforcing acceptable behavior at work.

Title VII

Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex. It is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. Prohibited behaviors can be of a sexual nature, as well as offensive conduct related to sex.

Title VII also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person who has complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Title VII applies to employers with more than 15 employees and applies to federal, state, and local governments, as well as employment agencies and labor organizations. It provides protection from discrimination in the hiring, firing, and promoting process, in setting pay, and in other terms and conditions of employment.