Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers

Workplace harassment and violence is a serious problem that can have a profound impact on both individual workers and the organizations they work for.

EXAMPLE

According to the Canada Labour Code, harassment and violence means “any action, conduct or comment, including of a sexual nature, that can reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or other physical or psychological injury or illness to an employee, including any prescribed action, conduct or comment.”

This includes all types of harassment, including sexual harassment, sexually-motivated harrassment and sexual violence.

According to the British Columbia Human Rights Code, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that can take many forms, including unwelcome comments or conduct of a sexual nature.

Workplace harassment and violence can lead to absenteeism, reduced productivity, increased stress levels and a lack of trust and respect among employees.

It can also create a hostile work environment that can be difficult to change. Organizations need to take steps to prevent workplace harassment and violence, and to address it effectively when it does occur.

This can include developing clear policies and procedures, providing training for employees and managers, and ensuring that there is a process for investigating and responding to complaints. By taking these steps, organizations can create a safer, more productive work environment for everyone.

Here is a guide for employers on how to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace.

Set Clear Expectations and Policies

The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace is one that has been receiving increasing attention in recent years.

In order to create a safe and productive workplace, it is essential to have clear expectations and policies regarding sexual harassment. This clarity will assist should the organization be faced with a complaint which is often a chaotic and stressful process.

This can look like developing and disseminating a policy statement about sexual harassment and the procedure to follow should someone need to lodge a complaint. The process should be confidential, unbiased, and include a dispassionate review of the facts.

By creating a workplace culture in which sexual conduct is not tolerated, businesses can help to ensure that all employees feel safe and respected.

Provide Training

When left unchecked, sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment, lead to decreased productivity, and cause employees to feel unsafe and uncomfortable.

By educating employees about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it, organizations can create a safer and more productive workplace. Additionally, regular training can help to ensure that employees are up-to-date on the organization’s policy and procedures surrounding sexual harassment.

Investigate Allegations Promptly and Thoroughly

If an employee reports being harassed, it is important to take the allegation seriously and conduct a prompt and thorough workplace investigation. The goal should be to conduct an impartial investigation into the conduct and make a business decision that will withstand legal scrutiny.

Ultimately, taking quick and decisive action when faced with complaints of sexual harassment or assault can help to create a safer and more respectful workplace for everyone.

Take Appropriate Corrective Action

Following an impartial investigation, if you find that sexual harassment has occurred, it is important to take appropriate corrective action. Depending on the severity of the harassment, this may include anything from counseling or coaching for the harasser to termination of employment.

It is also important to make sure that the victim feels safe and supported throughout the process. This looks different for every situation.

Key Takeaways

As an employer, you play an important role in shaping the culture of your workplace. Employees look to you to set expectations and model appropriate behaviors. This includes preventing and responding to inappropriate behavior, such as sexual harassment.

Beyond that, it is your legal obligation to ensure that appropriate workplace policies are in place and that employees are safe.

An experienced employment lawyer can help you understand your obligations and address any concerns you may have. Additionally, an employment lawyer can provide you with guidance on how to investigate and resolve complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.

If you need assistance from an employment lawyer, contact us today.