Workplace harassment is unethical behavior from anyone within the organization whose actions or behavior demeans an employee. Severe forms of workplace harassment and bullying include physical assaults, sexual misconduct, threats, intimidation, and human rights violation. Workplace harassment may also include offensive puns, name-calling, flashing pornographic content, and display of obscene pictures or objects. The most overlooked problem in the workplace is discrimination.
These protected classifications of employees, depending on your geographical state, can include:- Physical or Mental Disability
- National Origin
In any case of workplace harassment, the employer’s behavior must meet a certain standard in the eyes of the law. Just posting an anti-harassment policy is insufficient to prove that an employer took workplace harassment seriously. The employer needs to develop a harassment policy; train the workforce using examples that make inappropriate actions, behavior, and communication clearly defined; and enforce the policy.
If harassment is mentioned, observed, or done by a supervisor, the employer is particularly liable if the investigation was not conducted properly. A distinct harassment policy gives employees the befitting steps to take when they believe they are experiencing workplace harassment. The company must be able to prove that an appropriate investigation occurred and that perpetrators found guilty were suitably disciplined.
Every year we hear the same story in Silicon Valley. This year, it was Susan Fowler’s distressing account of her year at Uber, followed closely by A.J. Vandermeyden’s story alleging a culture of “pervasive harassment” at Tesla. It’s discouraging to see that an industry so passionate to embrace and change the future can’t break free of its unfortunate past.
The allegations of graphic gender discrimination that Susan and A.J. describe are intolerable, and any report of harassment deserves a thorough investigation. But implicit biases can also harm women in the workplace through more subtle forms of gender discrimination. These include being frequently interrupted or talked over; having decision-makers primarily address your male colleagues, even if they’re junior to you; working harder to receive the same recognition as your male peers; having your ideas ignored unless they’re rephrased by your male colleagues; worrying so much about being either “too nice” or “sharp-elbowed” that it hurts your ability to be effective; frequently being asked how you manage your work-life balance; and perhaps most difficult of all, not having peers who have been through similar scenarios to support you during tough times.
Ever since the newspapers published allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein, thousands of people have come forward about their experiences at casting couch. Those allegations that outed Harvey Weinstein as a dangerous sexual predator, triggered a chain reaction of shocking revelations in Hollywood. In the following months, many respected individuals in the industry were facing serious sexual misconduct lawsuits including Paul Haggis, Ben Vereen, Jeffrey Tambor, Louis C.K. and many others. The list also included 2 time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey who is now facing serious allegations of sexual misconduct against minors. All of the accused individuals were fired from their studios, snubbed from Oscar nominations and might never find work again. This proves how easy it is to make a difference if you raise our voice against mistreatments.
There are many redressals for people who have been sexually harassed. There is, however, absolutely no alternative for legal advice that is specific to your employee’s situation.
Here are some measures that can help that can help:
1. Establish Clear Guidelines
State in no uncertain terms that you will not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace. Following the investigation of the harassment complaint, no retaliation is permitted, regardless of the conclusion of the investigation.
2. Introduce training and awareness programs
Everyone throughout the organization must understand why an anti-workplace harassment policy is necessary and how do they report the misconduct of the policy. Set up training programs in which all employees must take part and schedule it on a regular basis, either annually or half yearly.
3. Mandatory participation of top management
One could also introduce specialized training for managers and supervisors. Establish training programs and announce schedules for mandatory attendance at these sessions. The people in charge of leading and managing employees should act impeccably in all workplace situations.
4. Initiate proper investigation for every case
Investigate and document fully any complaint that you receive. Record answers, interactions, and decisions. Make sure that employees know that some information may need to be shared to fully investigate and address the issues raised by the complaint. Everyone must understand that each complaint is taken very seriously and an investigation will be conducted when essential.
5. Provide the power of Anonymity
Employees often fear persecution for voicing their concerns. Implement Your Safe Hub in your organization, a special communication channel that protects such employees with the power of anonymity.