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 for Restaurants

Payroll for Restaurants

When you’re a small business owner running a full-service restaurant, you can’t afford to make financial missteps. It’s especially important for small businesses to keep an eye on their labor costs. As all restaurant owners well know, restaurant industry payroll is highly complex making it more prone to errors. Not only do you have to figure out wages for your tipped employees, but you also have the added complication of figuring out shortfalls and calculating your FICA tip credit. That’s a lot of computing—and a lot to potentially mess up. State Minimum Wage Laws States’ minimum wage requirements vary, but federal law dictates that if you operate in a state that uses the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) federal minimum wage, your...

Industry Spotlight - Restaurants: FLSA Compliance

Industry Spotlight - Restaurants: FLSA Compliance

The headlines recently reflect many of the concerns over how restaurants pay its employees. The federal wage and hour law addresses non-exempt, tipped, and exempt employees. This webinar will sort through those definitions and clarify a restaurateur’s compensation plan options. Join Julie Pugh, a partner with the law firm of Graydon in Cincinnati, Ohio, as she discuss what has changed, what hasn’t, and some of the biggest mistakes that can be made when paying restaurant employees. Speaker: Julie Pugh Julie’s practice at Graydon Law focuses on client counseling, employment litigation, and dispute resolution. She routinely represents clients before the EEOC, OCRC, DOL, and federal and state judges. She also worked as a human resource...

Case Study: Diaz Foods

Case Study: Diaz Foods

After receiving tax notices and little support from their HR & payroll provider, Diaz Foods made the switch to Paycor and couldn’t be happier. Not only is the HR department more efficient, but employees have more access and visibility to benefits and HR data than ever before. Discover how Paycor provided the right technology and reliable service Diaz Foods needed to create a better experience for their people.

1099 Overview

1099 Overview

Join us as Paycor's compliance experts do an overview on 1099 employees. Speakers: Arlene Baker and James Schwantes Arlene is a Sr Compliance Analyst with over 40 years of payroll and tax experience. Arlene is a member of the National Payroll Reporting Consortium focusing on IRS compliance. Arlene has been a member of the national and local APA for 25 years and is an active member of the American Payroll Association Hotline and SPLTF Hospitality Industry Subcommittee. She was the recipient of the 2003 Ohio Payroll Professional of the Year award. James is a Compliance Analyst with a legal and tax background. Prior to working at Paycor in the Tax and Compliance departments, he served as an attorney in Cincinnati focusing on antitrust,...