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How should sexual harassment be handled in the workplace?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is very serious concern. A hostile working environment diminishes employee morale, causes stress, and can ultimately lead to serious legal reprisal. Because this issue is so serious it’s incumbent upon managers and other higher-ups to deal with claims of sexual harassment in the appropriate manner. TheBalance.com explains how supervisors can prevent sexual harassment from taking its toll on their employees.

Know how sexual harassment is defined

Sexual harassment is more than unwanted advances or lewd language. For instance, if a person wears a t-shirt to work that contains sexually-charged or offensive language, it could be construed as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can also entail watching suggestive or graphic videos on your phone, making dirty jokes, displaying inappropriate photos, and continuously flirting with a co-worker even after being turned down.  

Implement policies

The employee handbook should contain clear language that harassment will not be tolerated. It should also include some basic examples of harassment and how workers can take steps to report issues to supervisors. Explaining how investigations will take place is another good idea, as it will show employees that there is a plan in place for these issues.

Take the appropriate action

When an incident is reported supervisors must act swiftly. All involved parties should be interviewed to get their perspective on the events that occurred. Fully documenting everything is another important concern. There should be a paper trail describing how and when the incident was reported, how the investigation took place, the outcome, and what follow up measures were taken. Transparency is key in this case, as a workplace that attempts to cover up or obscure sexual harassment will incur even further legal trouble.

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