Spotlight on Sexual Harassment

The recent sexual harassment scandals involving Hollywood and media figures, as well as members of Capital Hill, are focusing new attention on the topic. These very public allegations have set off a ripple effect, empowering people who say they also were victims, to come forward with stories of abuse by people in power.

Workplace harassment costs businesses millions of dollars every year through more ways than just costly lawsuits. Poor employee morale and reduced productivity also add to the costs. It is critical that you educate your employees on the various types of workplace harassment, and that you communicate and enforce your zero-tolerance policy that includes the following:

  1. A clear definition of workplace harassment that includes all prohibited bases and covers harassment by anyone in the workplace.
  2. A written procedure that encourages employees to report harassment and gives them a clear process for how to report any concerns – including a path outside the supervisory chain of command to make a report.
  3. Provide for prompt and impartial inquires and ensure confidentiality to the extent possible.
  4. Assure that immediate and appropriate corrective action, including discipline, will be taken if harassment is found or if the harassment policy was otherwise violated.
  5. Clearly state that retaliation against anyone making a good faith report under the policy will not be tolerated and will also result in corrective action, including discipline.
  6. Provide harassment training for all employees and specific training for managers. You should also ensure that the training complies with any state requirements.

It is essential that the policy be in writing and easily accessible to employees. You may even want to consider an annual notice to remind employees of the harassment policy and procedures for reporting harassing conduct.

How The O’Connor Group can help

The O’Connor Group provides clients with experienced, productive, flexible Human Resources Consultants who can review your harassment policy and procedures to ensure that your organization is compliant with all applicable regulations as well as best practices. We can also discuss the best options for how to provide harassment training to your employees and managers.

Please let us know if you need any assistance by contacting your HR Consultant or Suzi Tropiano at