It is impossible to avoid the headlines, which for months have been dominated by claims of sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination filed against high-profile figures – from Hollywood to the halls of Congress. Experts say it is inevitable that these newsworthy complaints, and the conversations they have touched off, will have a significant and lasting impact on employers in far less visible sectors.
As a result, employers large and small are taking stock of their current culture, policies and protocols to ensure that they are taking all necessary precautions to protect their employees and their businesses, and we are encouraging our clients to take proactive steps now to avoid being caught unprepared for complaints in their organizations.
So it’s time to dust off the handbooks and review and update your policies addressing harassment and discrimination complaints – and given the urgency surrounding these issues, it is not enough to simply email the new policy, obtain a “read receipt” and hope for the best. In order for these policies to be effective, employers need to provide interactive training to ensure that managers and employees understand the policies, know what legally prohibited harassment is (and is not), and have a clear understanding of reporting and response protocols.
The type of training you provide is also key – online training and pre-recorded videos aren’t enough – managers and employees need to have the opportunity to engage, ask questions and receive expert advice in order to understand the law and policies and avoid issues. Taking these important steps sends a clear message to employees, clients and customers that you take harassment and discrimination concerns seriously – and substantially reduces the risk of having your organization end up in the headlines – or in the courtroom.
Concerned leaders will be making this a priority in the New Year for their organizations, and your experienced employment law team at CGA is here to help. Contact Attorney Christine Nentwig to discuss how CGA can assist with drafting clear and effective policies and delivering interactive training programs for your managers and employees that are tailored to your business and your budget.