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  • Today's topic is a serious one.

  • We're going to talk about sexual harassment in the workplace, how to recognize it, establishing procedures to report it and how to prevent it.

  • The goal is a zero tolerance harassment free workplace.

  • Welcome to Hr Over Coffee.

  • A series from the experts at hr 360 where you will learn how to effectively hire, manage and terminate employees.

  • Despite decades of attention in the media and courts, sexual harassment remains a significant and costly problem in today's business environment.

  • According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, since 2010, more than 7000 sexual harassment charges have been filed with the agency each year.

  • The statistics are sobering all the more so because sexual harassment is against the law, both title seven of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and comparable state laws clearly provide that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination.

  • In addition to violating the law, sexual harassment negatively impacts the workplace by undermining the integrity of the employment relationship, harming employee morale and interfering with productivity.

  • But it need not happen at your company.

  • The first step in preventing harassment is establishing a zero tolerance policy clearly state that no form of harassment will be accepted at your workplace, including not only sexual harassment but also harassment due to race, religion, ethnic background, age or disability.

  • Publish the policy in your handbook and post it prominently on your company, internet or internal website.

  • Next offer employees training in how to recognize harassment.

  • Make sure they understand what types of actions and behaviors constitute sexual harassment and what things do not constitute sexual harassment.

  • Harassment can take many forms including unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

  • Harassment is illegal when it's used as a basis for employment decisions.

  • For example, when an individual's employment job duties or opportunity for advancement are made conditional on granting sexual favors or being receptive to sexual advances.

  • This type of harassment results in a tangible employment action such as a hiring, firing, promotion or demotion.

  • Sexual harassment can also take the form of what is known as a hostile work environment.

  • Sexually suggestive talk, jokes, photographs or behavior are the norm, making offensive remarks about an individual's gender can also be harassment.

  • Conversely, a polite compliment or asking a colleague for a date is generally not considered harassment unless the behavior is unwelcome and becomes sufficiently severe or pervasive.

  • Whatever form harassment takes, the employer must intervene to stop it, establish a formal grievance system or process and let your employees know what it is as a first step.

  • It's helpful for the victim to directly address the harasser and clearly inform him or her that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop.

  • If the behavior doesn't end there, the person being harassed should engage any complaint or grievance system in place at the company to report the alleged sexual harassment.

  • Make this process as simple as possible for your employees by providing accessible points of contact for employees to bring complaints.

  • Your policy should also assure employees that they will not suffer retaliation as a result of any complaint made in good faith retaliation is against the law.

  • The most efficient solution to the problem of sexual harassment is to prevent it in the first place.

  • In addition to a formal policy training and reporting process, it's in an employer's best interest to discourage some of the behaviors that might lead to sexual harassment such as inappropriate joking, using crude language and posting sexually suggestive photographs in the workplace.

  • While it's impossible to monitor the behavior of every individual employee, setting reasonable standards and raising sensitivity can make it less likely that a line will be crossed for more information and further training on preventing sexual harassment.

  • Visit us online at www dot hr 360 dot com and click on the products tab.

Today's topic is a serious one.

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