By: Loren Lee Forrest JR. and Katherine Marques
HOLLAND & KNIGHT
As recent headlines and hashtags (#MeToo) have shown, sexual harassment is a topic of great concern across workplaces, with past cultural attitudes being cast aside in favor of more enlightened approaches to employee treatment. Now more than ever, employers must proactively assess their policies and training systems to lay the groundwork for appropriate organizational responses to allegations or complaints that arise among employees. Any entity – whether a large publicly traded company, a small nonprofit or any organization in between – will be responsible and held liable if it fails to provide proper means of reporting, investigating and remedying allegations of inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment and other acts of discrimination.
• Create a culture of compliance, reporting and remediation, i.e., no one is above the law
• Invest in annual training and discuss results each year
• Managers should know if they see something, they need to do something, i.e., stop inappropriate behavior and let employees know that a report will be made to management
• Employees should know, “If you see something, say something” to a supervisor, the human resources department or another member of leadership
• Persons receiving initial complaints by victims should gather facts only without expressing judgments or opinions
• Consider alternative means of reporting mechanisms, such as hotlines, text message numbers, e-mail, etc.
• Always inform victims about the status of investigations and remediation; also follow up with victims and make sure that no retaliation of any kind is permitted