5 Ways to Avoid a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
The prime determinant in a company’s vulnerability to a claim being filed and a resulting lawsuit regarding sexual harassment is the attitude of the workforce. Not necessarily the morale, but the attitude that workers have about where the boundaries are, and what’s acceptable behavior when it comes to sexual harassment. When the attitude is permissive, the likelihood of a lawsuit is greatly increased. The new emphasis on training gives management a real opportunity to set the boundaries and make clear what actions are not acceptable.
With that in mind, here are 5 suggestions to positively influence the attitude by demonstrating and making clear what’s acceptable, and what is not. You do everyone a favor when you establish that.
- Don’t rely on videos to provide the training.
It has to be an extraordinary video to keep people tuned in for an hour. There are simply too many potential distractions when you have to watch a video for an hour, or worse, 2 hours. Even the best videos don’t allow for clarification of the many gray areas that exist today.
- Don’t lecture
I love attorneys, but their presentations can be pretty dry. Worse than that, they tend to tell you all the things you can’t do. Understandable, because they view their responsibility as being overly protective. I’ve heard them say that shaking hands could be considered harassment. A real-world presentation is preferable because an unreasonable standard is no help at all. Everyone violates an unreasonable standard, so there is no standard.
- Engage your employees in the training
So many trainers have excellent material but don’t get through because they fail to engage the attendees. This training requires that there be questions and requests for clarification because it is through discussion that employees will understand the rules. The trainer should have the ability to encourage questions and lead him discussions
- Allow time for questions, and be ready to provide clarifications
If your presenter is engaging, he or she should be peppered with questions. People are hungry to know what’s acceptable and to have misconceptions or things that they have heard cleared up. It’s a great opportunity with everyone present.
- Know What Your Boundaries Are
Management needs to establish ahead of any training what’s acceptable and what isn’t. What is the reporting chain clear, who investigates a claim, and what are the potential consequences if someone is guilty of harassment? Make your own policies known.
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