Time’s Up for Employer Complacency

Davis Graham & Stubbs presentation reminds employers to double down on harassment policies and investigations

According to a 2016 report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 75 percent of people who experience harassment in the work-place don’t report to a manager or supervisor. And in 2017, 48.8 percent of charges by the EEOC were for retaliation against an employee bringing allegations.

But in the wake of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, employers need to double down on making sure they have clear, effective anti-harassment policies and investigations, according to experts at a recent roundtable discussion. Attorneys at Davis Graham & Stubbs gave a presentation Thursday to remind employers of topics such as the importance of clear communications, that the failure to investigate claims can be just as damning as harassment itself, and effective training includes encouraging bystander intervention, too.

“Why do we have this #MeToo movement of all these people coming out of the woodwork to say this has happened to me?” said partner Sybil Kisken. “There are studies and articles and all sorts of material about it. People are afraid of retaliation.”

Three federal laws prohibit discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace: The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The laws apply to companies with at least 15 or 20 employees. But Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act applies to any size employer and prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, pregnancy, age, sexual orientation, disability or marriage to a co-worker.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the February 12, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.