Investigate, investigate, investigate. It is critical that all allegations of harassment be taken seriously and investigated immediately.
December 04, 2017
“Harassment and sexual harassment unfortunately is a reality of the workplace. With high-profile cases and allegations such as Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein coming to light recently, employers are looking for answers. They want to ensure they are offering the best working conditions for all employees,” says Avitus Group’s Montana-based Director of Human Resources & Risk Management Ryan Braley.
“Avitus Group makes sure our members are educated on workplace policy and are able to be in compliance with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC’s laws, regulation and guidance on harassment and sexual harassment. We’re offering our best practices guide in an effort to help workplaces nationwide take a more proactive approach regarding sexual harassment,” says Avitus Group’s Colorado-based Regional Human Resources & Operations Manager Dawn Holdon.
The Avitus Group Sexual Harassment Best Practices Guide for Employers highlights 10 items critical to workplace compliance and sexual harassment policy for employers. Employers who are following best practices should be able to answer yes to each question within the guide. For example: 1. My company has a zero tolerance policy for harassment and retaliation and it enforces the policy. 2. My company provides specific sexual harassment training for management and supervisors at least every two years. My company also provides specific sexual harassment training for new managers and supervisors within 6 months of their promotion and/or hiring. 3. My company provides as many avenues as possible for reporting sexual harassment, including an anonymous harassment hotline available for all employees.
If businesses are not able to answer yes to all 10 questions within the guide, Avitus Group, as one of the largest employers in the co-employment industry nationwide, serves a resource for further information. Additionally, the guide cautions companies to make sure they are not only in compliance with federal regulation and law, but with state-specific laws.
“Employers should note that certain states have more specific laws regarding sexual harassment. For example, California requires sexual harassment training for supervisors every two years for employers with over 50 employees. The training must be a minimum of two hours and must be interactive. Additionally, there needs to be a bullying component included. Effective January 1, 2018, an additional component covering harassment based upon gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation will need to be included with any mandatory sexual harassment training,” says Avitus Group’s California-based Director of Human Resources & Risk Management Cynthia Hancock.
“Investigate, investigate, investigate,” says Avitus Group’s Alaska-based Human Resources Director Robert Lindstrom. “It is critical that all allegations of harassment be taken seriously and investigated immediately, even if the employee who reported the allegations does not want management to do anything about it. Advise the employee that once a company learns about a harassment claim, they are required to investigate. Some of the largest lawsuits filed are due to an employer’s failure to properly investigate.”
“Assure that if there are allegations of harassment, that the employee who brought forth the allegations is not retaliated against and/or perceived to be retaliated against in any manner,” says Avitus Group’s New Jersey-Based Human Resources Business Partner Trudi Curcione. “This means you may have to suspend or change the alleged perpetrators schedule or move them to another department temporarily. No action should be taken against the employee who complained.”
Avitus Group also advises for continued training for all level of employees throughout their career on what is and is not appropriate in the workplace. For more information, Avitus Group invites the business community to review the Sexual Harassment Best Practices Guide for Employers and reach out with any questions.
Avitus Group is a worldwide company that simplifies, strengthens and grows businesses by providing ‘back office’ support (payroll, accounting, taxes, recruiting, information technology, human resources and much more). When a business uses Avitus Group, all of the necessary yet burdensome functions of the business become Avitus Group’s responsibility, so the business can focus on what it does best. Avitus Group serves clients nationwide through regional office locations from coast to coast. The company also serves international clients through partner locations worldwide.
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