While state and federal laws work to protect employees from sexual harassment, the reality is that it occurs in workplaces across the country every day. But knowing the signs that sexual harassment is occurring is critical in becoming an ally in the workplace for those victims of harassment. The employment attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam explain.
Stages of Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Former New York City attorney Ally Coll, the founder of the nonprofit The Purple Campaign, which aims to create safe workplaces and alter the way workplace culture becomes a breeding ground for harassment, explains that sexual harassment thinking needs to come in three stages: prevent, respond, and rethink.
- Prevent: The first step in handling workplace sexual harassment should be to prevent it from happening in the first place. This includes creating clear guidelines about behavior in official codes of conduct and ensuring such policies are communicated at all levels of employment and management. This can be done via employee handbooks, workplace meeting materials, and printed directly on any materials guests may receive when entering or attending events hosted by the employer.
- Respond: While knowing what behaviors are not permissible, employees, visitors, vendors, and independent contractors, all should know how such behavior will be handled. This includes designated who will handle reported situations, creating a group that addresses these issues to ensure fairness is taken into account, as well as ensuring its a diverse group in that decision making process to hear out all viewpoints.
- Rethink: While understanding and coming up with a plan to combat and handle workplace sexual harassment, sometimes the greater issue becomes one of diversity. While in Coll’s examples this is specific to industry events, the same principles can be applied to the workplace. Workers tend to trust those they see themselves in which is something to consider when building your team.
While keeping these things in the forefront of your office restructuring to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, you may wonder what you can do as an employee who has experienced harassment.
Reporting Workplace Sexual Harassment
While helping create safe workplaces is one aspect of employment law, the other is to protect and defend the rights of victims. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, know that you must come forward as these behaviors likely will not stop. Speak up, talk to management, have a meeting with HR. If none of these encounters change the behavior, then you need legal guidance.
Sexual Harassment, Seek Justice: Stages of Sexual Harassment
Now more than ever, employers should know to be mindful of predatory and lewd behaviors occurring in the office setting. If you are a victim of sexual harassment, know that your voice and story matter. Do not let this behavior continue. Let Brown Kwon & Lam represent you in your sexual harassment case. Contact us today.