Prevention of Sexual Harassment Claims: Learning From #MeToo

By Stephen Key - Key Harrington Barnes, PC

February 12, 2018

The catalyst of powerful movements is unfortunately often adverse - this is the nature of many examples of real change and progress, most recently the widespread #MeToo campaign taking place on Twitter.

The #MeToo movement, which took root following a wave of high profile sexual misconduct, harassment and assault accusations that started with allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, has rapidly grown into an outpouring of confessions made by victims of sexual harassment on a worldwide scale, many of whose stories focus specifically on things that happened in their career or workplace.

Refresh Your Outlook

In the wake of this movement, it is becoming clearer that incidents of sexual misconduct in the modern workplace were perhaps not being prevented or handled as effectively as we all may have hoped.

While the last three decades have undoubtedly led to positive changes and more progressive attitudes regarding the acknowledgment of these issues and the protections put in place to deter them, many employers should still be taking this opportunity to ask themselves some important questions about their own approach to dealing with sexual harassment claims and, hopefully, taking steps to prevent the need for further claims.

Does Your Workplace Environment Feel Safe For All Of Your Employees?

Are your employees working in an environment in which they feel safe enough to come forward if they have been the victim of harassment? Have you witnessed any employee behavior that could be considered sexual harassment in the form of inappropriate, unwelcome comments or conversations? Did you do anything to discourage or stop it? If your employees don’t feel that you take issues of sexual misconduct seriously, they could be hesitant to report incidents that have happened or misconduct that is ongoing.

Do Your Employees Know How And When To Report Sexual Harassment?

Your employees must know what procedures are in place to report sexual harassment. This includes an understanding of the time frame in which such reports must be filed.

Houston local news provider recently posted an article that expanded on many current questions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, including the time limit on reporting an incident under state law, which is within 180 days of when it occurred. Have you made your employees aware of this, as well as any additional guidelines that may apply to filing a complaint? Do they know how to start the process?

When the system that is in place to address reports of sexual harassment fails your employees, it is far more likely to result in claims made against your business. These can do extensive damage to both your financial state and the reputation of your company. Rather than be forced to defend your position and procedures in court, it is best for your business, your employees and yourself to make your workplace one that is dedicated to discouraging and preventing sexual harassment before it ever happens.

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