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EMPLOYERS RESPONSIBILITY AGAINST WORKPLACE SEXUAL HARASSMENT

When you have any number of people working together, it is possible that at least one individual may be attracted to another. Most businesses frown upon office romance, simply because they tend to be disruptive by nature. Generally, office attractions are completely harmless and can almost be ignored. Yet, occasionally, boundaries are crossed. Unfortunately when this happens, employers can face a sexual harassment suit within their company. You cannot run a business on your own and this is not a perfect world where everyone obeys the rules. As a business owner or even as a manager, what do you do to protect yourself and your business from such an incident?

Types of Sexual Harassment

There are five common types of sexual harassment that as a business owner you should be aware of and should watch for. These are:

  1. Gender Harassment: Statements and behavior that are generalized and degrading to an entire sex. This can be in the form of remarks, offensive graffiti, or even inappropriate jokes;
  2. Seductive Behavior: Obscene and unwarranted sexual advancements. Examples of this can be repetitive sexual invitations or even unsolicited letters, phone calls and other communications;
  3. Sexual Bribery: Promising a reward in return for sexual favors, either subtle or blatant;
  4. Sexual Coercion: Threatening punishment for failure to reciprocate sexual advancements. This may be a poor performance review, promotion denial, or even termination; and
  5. Sexual Imposition: Unwanted, forceful touching, feeling, or grabbing. This can also be sexual assault.

Legal Obligations

As an employer, you have a legal obligation within the state of California to do everything possible to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace. Some provisions that are required:

  • Employers must post a sexual harassment awareness poster visible to all employees. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has one available;
  • Employers with more than 50 employees must provide two hours of interactive training and classroom education about sexual harassment. This must be completed every two years;
  • Employers must distribute a brochure, or other form of a printed document, that provides information about sexual harassment. One such brochure is also made available by the DFEH; and
  • Employers may choose to create their own printed handout for their employees pertaining to sexual harassment. The following are a list of information that is required to be included in this document:
    • Sexual Harassment is illegal;
    • The definition of sexual harassment under state and federal laws;
    • A description of sexual harassment, using examples;
    • The internal complaint process that an employee may use to file a sexual harassment complaint;
    • DFEH legal remedies and complaint process;
    • Directions on how to contact the Department of Fair Employment and Housing Commission; and
    • A statement that informs employees that they are protected by law if they need to file a complaint or if they cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation.

If you are just starting a business and would like to learn more about how to protect that business, or are in the midst of a sexual harassment investigation, a knowledgeable, experienced business attorney can give you the peace of mind you need that someone is on your side. Sexual harassment charges can be devastating to a reputation of a business and can cripple success rates.  If you are a business owner and need the help of a skilled San Jose business attorney, the Law Offices of Steven E. Springer are equipped with years of reputable service and will assist you in achieving the outcome you are looking for. Do not hesitate to call us today at 408-779-4700 to schedule your free 20 minute consultation.

Sources:

http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Publications_StatLaws_SexHarrass.htm

http://www.epcc.edu/Counseling/Pages/TypesofSexualHarassment.aspx


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