Proactive Prevention Against Workplace Harassment

Proactive Prevention Against Workplace Harassment

From the HR Pros of the HR Support Center

For years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the US Supreme Court have strongly encouraged employers to establish harassment prevention training and have punished certain employers who fail to educate their employees. Several states (e.g. California, Connecticut, and Maine) require harassment education and make it unlawful for failure to train. All companies – big and small – must understand the definition of harassment, recognize the applicable mandatory training provisions, and ensure effective delivery of programs to protect their businesses.

A few employers generally understand the basics of what is considered workplace harassment, but many often neglect or tend to forget that discrimination plays a significant role. According to the EEOC, unlawful harassment is a form of discrimination that can violate one or more federal statutes, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Workplace harassment and discrimination can relate to each other because both may involve unwelcome verbal or physical conduct and behaviors often associated with protected classes including race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity, age, and disability. Harassment may result from internal sources (e.g. employees and managers) or external sources (e.g. customers, vendors, and visitors to the workplace).

Examples of workplace harassment include:
* Use of derogatory or mockery words encompassing skin color, religion, gender, age, and stereotypes.

* Body language (e.g. profane gestures) and materials (e.g. explicit photos) considered offensive.

* Insulting inferences or sexual references about an individual’s appearance (e.g. body parts or clothing attire).

An employer can be held liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in negative employment actions such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages. In 2011, the EEOC stated 16.3% of charges were filed by males regarding sexual harassment. Employers having any knowledge about harassment (even alleged) and failing to take prompt and appropriate corrective action, can be held liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees of whom it has oversight responsibilities (e.g. independent contractors or customers on the premises). If a complaint is filed with the EEOC, a determination as to whether the harassment is severe or pervasive enough to be deemed illegal is made on a case-by-case basis.

Prevention is the best tool to decrease or eliminate harassment in the workplace. Take proactive (and documented) steps to prevent and correct prohibited harassment prior to it becoming pervasive or unlawful. Clearly communicate to employees that unwelcome harassing conduct will not be tolerated. In particular, provide anti-harassment training to all managers and employees on a regular basis. Determine if the state you do business in, requires sexual harassment training. Three states (California, Connecticut, and Maine) currently require sexual harassment training to be provided for supervisory employees according to company size and other factors.

Employers should strive to create an environment in which employees feel free to raise concerns and are confident that those concerns will be addressed. Therefore, minimize your company’s liabilities by protecting your business against law suits and preventing harassment in the workplace by consistently communicating and educating all of your employees and supervisors.

Want more helpful answers to your HR questions?

Subscribe to Paycor’s HR Support Center. Or, upgrade to HR On Demand to get personalized answers and advice from an HR professional.

More to Discover

Payroll Risks and Controls: Everything You Need to Know

Payroll Risks and Controls: Everything You Need to Know

Believe it or not, running payroll is a risky business The IRS estimates that 40% of small to medium-size businesses end up paying a payroll penalty each year. Whether you’re a large organization or a small one, there’s always a risk of payroll errors leading to fines, penalties and sometimes litigation. Protect yourself from fraud and human error Businesses that run payroll on their own, especially small businesses, are at a much higher risk of being disrupted by fraudulent activity and human error. From ghost employees to hour padding to buddy punching, when a company lacks the appropriate internal controls to manage its payroll, it can run into big trouble. Here are 6 common payroll risks and controls you can implement to mitigate...

401(k) Match Limits 2019: What Payroll Administrators  Need to Know

401(k) Match Limits 2019: What Payroll Administrators Need to Know

It’s a relatively small change, but it’s a change for payroll administrators to take notice of. As of November 2018, your employees’ contribution limits for their 401(k) increased to $19,000 from $18,500. The increase raises the total annual contribution amount (employee plus employer contribution) to $56,000 or 100% of the employee’s salary if they make less than that. Most companies typically offer 3-6% in matching funds, but there is no limit to the amount an employer can contribute as long as the annual cap isn’t reached. 2018 & 2019 401(k) Match Limits Defined Contribution Plan Limits 2019 2018 Difference Maximum employee contribution $19,000 $18,500 +$500 Catch-up contribution for employees aged 50 or older $6,000 $6,000 No...

Webinar: October Web Summit - Compliance from Hire to Retire

Webinar: October Web Summit - Compliance from Hire to Retire

From managing recruiting compliance data to accurately tracking employee hours, you need a partner who can offer the right technology plus expertise to help mitigate risk. Register for this webinar to see how Paycor can help prepare you for all of the compliance challenges in managing the employee lifecycle!We will be reviewing these 4 major areas of compliance: Recruiting Hiring Payroll People Management Speaker: Brett BeilfussBrett has been the Senior Bank Marketing Program Manager for Paycor for the past three years. He works exclusively with Paycor’s Bank and CPA referral partners, whose aim is to help their clients mitigate risk.

Webinar: October Web Summit - How to Design your PTO and Paid Leave Policies

Webinar: October Web Summit - How to Design your PTO and Paid Leave Policies

As companies seek to offer employees more flexible work arrangements, designing paid time off and paid leave policies has never been more challenging. In this session, we will unpack the imposing array of federal, state and local laws that must be considered when designing lawful and effective PTO and paid leave policies.Speaker: Katharine WeberKatharine is a Principal in the Cincinnati, Ohio, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She has successfully assisted countless clients in handling their labor and employment issues in both Ohio and Kentucky. Her expertise also includes litigating wrongful discharge cases, managing discrimination cases, negotiating collective bargaining and severance agreements, advising management on employment relations...