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Preventing sexual harassment at California ranches

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California ranches are known for their beautiful landscape and fine cattle specimen. Many workers are attracted to employment on large ranches so they can commune with nature and enjoy the feeling of freedom on the job. However, just like any workplace, California ranches can have a problem with sexual harassment if the owners aren't careful to keep their employees in line.

Given the "cowboy" and "manly" atmosphere at a California ranch, women could find themselves outnumbered on the job and especially vulnerable to becoming the victims of sexual harassment on a ranch. Nevertheless, any gender could become the target of this unseemly behavior.

A plan for ranch owners to prevent sexual harassment among their employees

Here are several things that California ranch owners should do to prevent on-the-job sexual harassment:

Set up a sexual harassment policy: Ranch owners need to write up a sexual harassment policy that prevents sexual harassment while encouraging workers to treat one another with the utmost dignity and respect. Once the policy has been drafted, and workers have been required to sign the policy, employers should continue to remind employees about the policy during staff meetings.

Create a reporting process: Ranch owners should provide a procedure for reporting instances of sexual harassment. This procedure should involve employees reporting sexual harassment to a specific person -- or an externally contracted human resources firm -- that is not the employee's supervisor to prevent a supervisor from trying to hide the instance in order to protect him- or herself.

Train employees how to respond to sexual harassment and to report it immediately: Employees need to be encouraged and empowered to step forward and report sexual harassment. Also, the employees who receive these complaints need to know how to respond to them. For example, the appropriate response to sexual harassment is not: "He was just making a joke," or "You need to keep a stiff upper lip."

Respond immediately to all complaints: Employers need to respond swiftly and effectively to all sexual harassment complaints, and to take them seriously by performing an in-depth investigation. This will encourage employees to step forward, and it will discourage would-be offenders from making an error in judgment.

Is your California ranch sexual harassment-free?

If you're employed at a California ranch and you're being victimized by sexual harassment at work, stand up for your rights. No victim of on-the-job sexual harassment should ever have to put up with this ugly form of abuse.

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