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What can employers do about sexual harassment?

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Sexual harassment has been in the news time and time again in recent months. Numerous stories have come out involving actors, film producers, doctors, and an array of celebrities who have been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other examples of sexual misconduct.

When sexual harassment occurs in a workplace setting, companies have a vested interest in addressing the issue as soon as possible. This type of conduct can have a lasting impact on a business, causing harm to the company's reputation, employee morale, bottom line - and of course, to the individuals who have been subjected to this deleterious behavior.

So what can companies do to address sexual harassment in the workplace?

The most effective approach is one that works to prevent this behavior from ever occurring. A recent article on Forbes.com details a 15-point plan for directors and CEOs to eliminate sexual harassment in their organizations. Some of the recommendations include:

  • Taking every allegation of sexual harassment seriously: Businesses should never downplay or dismiss what an employee has to say.
  • Investigating every case that is reported.
  • Placing the employee on a paid leave of absence while the investigation takes place.
  • Looking back and auditing every sexual harassment case that has occurred in the last 5 to 10 years.
  • Opening a sexual harassment hotline, where victims can call and report incidences of sexual harassment. A third-party provider would administrate the line and would report the information to the company's board.

Get all 15 tips here.

Remember: Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. Employees are protected by state and federal laws. Employers have a responsibility to stop sexual harassment from happening. When they fail to do so, they can be held accountable.

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