Did you know that in Massachusetts, all workers have a right to pursue their livelihood in a reasonably peaceful, tolerant and harassment-free work environment, and that all employers are responsible for creating such a work environment? When a worker encounters certain forms and degrees of harassment in their workplace, the worker can bring a lawsuit against their employer for a hostile work environment, or for sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is not a new problem. But with the recent heightened awareness due to the current news coverage, it is one that should be an immediate concern for all employers as the likelihood of employees in the workforce bringing sexual harassment claims will surely increase.
So what is an Employer to Do?
Alliant Human Resources strongly urges every employer to create a reasonably peaceful, tolerant and harassment-free work environment for their employees, clients, visitors, and customers as soon as possible. So how do you do that?
You need to:
have clearly-written, legally-compliant harassment and sexual harassment policies,
communicate those policies to all of your employees and managers, and
consistently enforce those policies.
Writing (or reviewing and rewriting) your harassment and sexual harassment policies in a legally-compliant manner, distributing the written policies to all employees, holding training sessions on sexual harassment regularly and as needed throughout each year, and being prepared to handle any harassment claims immediately and consistently are all important parts of your sexual harassment prevention and compliance strategy.
There is no guarantee that, even if you do all of this, you will not find your organization having sexual harassment complaints, but you should be able to handle any complaints so they don't escalate to being filed as a claim. And if a formal claim is filed, you will be far better prepared to avoid lengthy and costly litigation, and/or to minimize the impact.