Updated: Oct 3
This article provides valuable information on the definition of sexual harassment, the procedures to take if an employee reported a claim, disciplinary actions, and state-by-state requirements. Some states have mandatory training, whereas others are encouraged.
Regardless of the state, you are in, this training should not be taken as an optional measure. If employers fail to take claims seriously, they could be dealing with legal action.
What Is Sexual Harassment Training?
Sexual Harassment training exists to bring about offenders and educate everyone in the workplace about inappropriate actions. It is important to implement the training in all businesses for employees to understand appropriate actions and disciplinary procedures for enforcement. This training exists because many people have witnessed and are victims of this form of harassment in the workplace and greater action was needed to prevent or halt these behaviors. 60% of women experience unwanted sexual comments or conduct in the workplace.
Both men and women experience sexual harassment, however, a large number of individuals do not report to top management. 90% of employees who experience harassment never file a complaint.
Employers should make an ongoing commitment to create an environment that is safe and ensure all claims are taken seriously.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of sexual nature that is persistent or offensive and interferes with an employee's job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment can be verbal as well, including remarks that are generalizing to women or men. It is often noted as a term meant for women, however, both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. This applies to the harasser as well. Some examples can include ignoring ideas of the women in the workplace and only listening to men, unwanted/inappropriate touching, or crossing the line of professionalism by asking a coworker on a date when they are presenting uncomfortable body language or saying no. Cold body language towards an uncomfortable situation equates to a no as verbally stating it. Sexual harassment can be subtle or blatantly noticeable. Regardless, it should be reported and anyone that may have witnessed these interactions is also liable to report.
Procedures for Employers to Follow in the Workplace
The first thing an employer should do if an employee brings up a complaint is to take it seriously. An investigation should take place immediately and also remain on a need-to-know basis. The investigation can include interviews of both parties and the collection of relevant documents. If the complaint is determined to be a valid case, the employer should take proper disciplinary action to ensure the harassment does not continue. For outside help, the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR) is the main contact point for questions or concerns about sexual harassment. Supervisors and other responsible department officials who observe or reasonably suspect incidents of possible sexual harassment must immediately report such incidents to S/OCR. The Office of Civil Rights will guide as needed on investigating and handling the potential harassment.
It’s important to note that supervisors and managers can be harassers as well. For those instances, an outside entity should investigate an impartial evaluation. Both managers and supervisors are subject to disciplinary action.