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Employers Are Getting Smarter About Handling Sexual Harassment Issues

Smart companies are developing more aggressive approaches to preventing the occurrence of sexual harassment. They’re learning how to limit their vulnerability to sexual harassment suits.

June 1, 1998
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Related Topics: Harassment, Policies and Procedures
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Reports of sexual harassment are becoming more common. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were 6,000 cases of sexual harassment in 1990. By 1996, 15,000 cases were filed.

However, according to twin studies on sexual harassment complaints at 900 firms by the White Plains, New York-based law firm of Jackson, Lewis, Schitzler & Krupman, the number of human resources professionals surveyed that had handled at least one such complaint a year dropped 22 percent, from 92 percent in 1995 to 70 percent in 1997. According to Greg Rasin, managing partner of Jackson Lewis, "There’s been a fundamental shift in employer attitudes about sexual harassment in just the past two years. With keener awareness and sensitivity, smart companies are developing more aggressive approaches to preventing the occurrence of sexual harassment. They’re learning how to limit their vulnerability to sexual harassment suits."

One reason for the drop in complaints could be manager training on the topic. The survey indicates that in 1997, 62 percent of companies polled had provided sexual harassment training for supervisors versus 34 percent two years earlier. "When it comes down to it, a company can’t control every manager and every hire. But, a company can take preventative measures to have more control," says Rasin.

While U.S. businesses may be a long way from being harassment-free, human resources managers are getting smarter about handling it.

Workforce, June 1998, Vol. 77, No. 6, p. 42.


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