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How to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is all too common in workplaces throughout Florida, and all of the U.S. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were over 6,800 sexual harassment allegations included in alleged charges in 2014. For many employers, allowing this type of behavior can result in low productivity and poor employee morale, as well as costly litigation. Therefore, it can be the best interest of employers, and their employees, to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in their workplaces.

In general, any unwanted sexual advances made by one employee toward another may be considered sexual harassment. Additionally, verbal and physical conduct that is sexual in nature, requests for sexual favors and displaying images that are sexually explicit may also constitute this type of harassment. Employers are generally responsible for the actions of their supervisors and should be encouraged to prevent such harassment. As such, they may be held responsible for sexual harassment in the workplace, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In order to prevent sexual harassment, one of the most important steps that employers can take is to establish a clear, firm sexual harassment policy. This should not only provide a definition of this type of harassment, but also detail the procedure for filing complaints. Furthermore, it can be helpful for such policies to include the potential consequences for sexual harassment.

Training can also be a helpful tool for preventing sexual harassment. At least once a year, managers and supervisors should undergo training about what constitutes this type of harassment and how complaints should be handled. Employees should also be educated annually about sexual harassment and the procedures for filing complaints.

Beyond establishing policies and educating workers at all levels, it can be important for employers to carefully monitor their workplaces themselves. This includes looking around the workplace to check for posters, pictures or notes that could be considered offensive. Additionally, it can be important for employers to discuss what is going on with supervisors and managers, as well as talking to employees about the work environment.

When sexual harassment complaints are made, it is crucial to for employers to take swift action to investigate. Should complaints be validated, the response should be quick and effective. Employers who have had complaints of sexual harassment in their workplaces may find it beneficial to consult with an attorney to help ensure they are protected.

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