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How company policy can protect against sexual harassment claims

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2021 | Employment Law |

As a company that hires people in New York, you have the carefully comply with not just federal employment laws but also state laws. Providing a safe and harassment-free workplace should be a priority for your company.

Claims of sexual harassment or other forms of workplace abuse and discrimination could not only damage your company’s reputation but also its finances. Thankfully, there are straightforward steps that your company can take to limit how much risk it has of employee misconduct affecting operations.

Have a clear policy on sexual harassment in your employee handbook

Everyone who works for your company should know that it is not acceptable for them to mistreat or harass their co-workers. Having a clear, explicit policy prohibiting sexual misconduct and possibly requiring that workers report intimate relationships to human resources for company protection can go a long way to limit what damage an individual worker’s behavior might have on your company.

Train your workers about sexual harassment

One of the most common excuses offered up by workers who make others feel uncomfortable or unsafe on the job is that they don’t know what constitutes sexual harassment or that “everything is sexual harassment” these days. As an employer, you can help educate your workers so that they know what is unacceptable in the workplace.

New York requires that you provide each of your employees with sexual harassment prevention training as well. The state has its own model that your business can use, or you can develop your own program. It must be interactive and explain not only what constitutes sexual harassment but also how workers can report sexual harassment, especially if supervisors are the ones mistreating them. Training will usually be part of the new hire process and will have to re-occur annually.

Establish internal practices about investigating complaints

In addition to teaching your workforce about sexual harassment and having a company-wide policy against it, it’s important that people in the human resources and managerial department know to take every complaint about sexual harassment seriously. They should create a written record and initiate an investigation so that your company can take appropriate action to protect its workers and then retrain or discipline those who are behaving inappropriately.

Understanding your obligations as an employer can help you limit the risk you take when you hire new workers.

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