Handbook Tip #3: It’s not just sexual harassment anymore.
It is never a good day to be notified that an employee is accusing your company of something, especially the most serious of accusations, a harassment charge.
Whether or not the employee is justified, one of the best ways to combat costly lawsuits is to ensure that the handbook contains a detailed sexual AND OTHER UNLAWFUL harassment policy and that you and your employees abide by its regulations.
Your harassment policy should cover everyone regardless of gender or position in the company. There are certain elements to the policy that help protect you in the event of a complaint. For example, a proper policy includes a specific definition of sexual harassment according to federal law as well as a protocol for reporting any unlawful harassment. Every employee should receive a copy of this protocol as well as a listing of whom to contact and when to contact certain HR representatives. You don’t want to take any chances with harassment.
Keep in mind that sexual and other unlawful harassment differs from equal employment opportunity. Both may be federally protected claims, but each is handled differently according to federal regulations. Your handbook should state this clearly. Remember to state language regarding NO retaliation for cooperating with an investigation and provide clear examples of unlawful and unwanted harassment.
In our final week of our series on handbooks, we will examine how to protect yourself from being sued over policy enforcement.