Some California employers may wrongly believe that sexual harassment would never happen in their companies. As recent news reports demonstrate, sexual harassment can happen in any industry. It is important for businesses to take steps to help to prevent people from being harassed at their companies and to end harassment that they discover.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that only about 30 percent of workplace sexual harassment victims file complaints within their company. In 2016, the agency received 27,000 harassment and sex discrimination complaints. Many victims are afraid to file reports with their companies because of a fear of losing their jobs or of damaging their reputations. Some file lawsuits against their companies directly while others simply suffer in silence.
Companies should start by making certain that they implement strong policies and procedures for sexual harassment in the workplace. They should conduct regular training and encourage workers to report harassment without fear. It is a good idea for companies to have several reporting mechanisms in place so that workers aren’t left in the position of having to complain to a supervisor who might also be their harasser. When complaints are received, companies should immediately investigate them and take action against workers who are responsible even if they are key personnel.
Workers should not be placed in the position of being victims of harassment. Employers must act when they learn that harassment is occurring. If the employers fail to investigate complaints or retaliate against the victims for complaining, the victims might be able to get help from experienced employment law attorneys. The lawyers may help their clients hold their harassers and their employers liable for the losses that the victims have suffered because of the harassment. If they are fired or demoted, the attorneys may be able to help them recover in retaliation lawsuits.