Sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on national origin, sex and religion. Yet despite federal, state and municipal protections for workers, it remains a persistent problem, according to the EEOC’s special task force on the study of workplace harassment, but there are things that employers can do to create safe environments for women and all workers.
Here are some recommendations from the 2016 report:
Employers should assess their workplaces for risk factors associated with harassment — like a lack of diversity or a culture that tolerates or promotes alcohol use — and explore ideas for minimizing those risks.
They should adopt and maintain a comprehensive anti-harassment policy and make sure that it is communicated frequently to employees, in a variety of methods.
There should be several channels to report harassment, and investigations should be prompt, objective, thorough and kept as confidential as possible.
Please also read: Sexism Remains an Unwelcome Advancement in the Workplace
Employers should be alert for any possibility of retaliation against an employee who reports harassment and should take steps to ensure that such retaliation does not occur.
Employers should offer regular compliance training and make sure that middle management and first-line supervisors know how to respond effectively to harassment that they observe, that is reported to them, or of which they have knowledge or information — even before such harassment reaches a legally actionable level.
Rita Pyrillis is a writer in the Chicago area. Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.