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Second of a three part series: Harassment in the Workplace
In our previous article, we outlined what harassment is and how state laws govern most harassment related legislation. We also mentioned the conditions, outlined by the Supreme Court in Vance v. Ball State University, under which an employer in any state is liable for an employee’s harassment. The employer is liable if the perpetrator is the victim’s supervisor, i.e., a person who has authority over employment decisions or the daily work activities of an employee. The employer is also liable if the company has been negligent, i.e., has no process in place to prevent harassment.
Thankfully, the methods to avoid allegations of negligence and can go a long way toward protecting the business owner from lawsuit. In this article, we’ll discuss best practices for harassment prevention every employer should know.
Creating and communicating a strict, clear policy on harassment is the best way to keep potential harassers in check and create a sense of safety among all employees. Though an employer is not automatically liable for not having an anti-harassment policy, not having a policy eliminates a potentially important defense against future harassment claims.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if simply publishing a thorough, clear policy were enough to educate employees on harassment? Unfortunately, most people need a little more guidance than that. The effective communication of your policies will take some strategizing, resource allocation, and consistency.
If you follow these steps, you’re well on your way to creating a safe work environment and protecting yourself from vicarious liability for an employee’s harassment. In the next article of this series, we’ll talk about what to do when even the best prevention methods fail and a harassment claim is made.
As always, we are here to help you any way we can. Please don’t hesitate to call or email if you need us.
The Deerfield Team
Bridgeford, Lydell C. “Q&A: SOME TRICKY ASPECTS OF ANTI-HARASSMENT TRAINING, RETALIATION CLAIMS.” Bloomberg BNA Labor & Employment Blog, Jul 16 2013. http://www.bna.com/qa-tricky-aspects-b17179875217/
Bussing, Heather. “When Employers are Liable for Harassment.” HR Examiner, June 24 2013. http://www.hrexaminer.com/when-employers-are-liable-for-harassment/
Miller, Bridget. “What Should Be Included in Anti-Harassment Training?” HR Daily Advisor, May 23 2014. http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2014/05/23/what-should-be-included-in-anti-harassment-training/#
Monsees, Paul R. “Employer’s Super Anti-Harassment Policy May Increase Its Liability.” Labor & Employment LawPerspectives, Dec 8 2014. http://www.laboremploymentperspectives.com/2014/12/08/employers-super-anti-harassment-policy-may-increase-its-liability/
“Questions and Answers for Small Employers on Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisor.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, April 1 2010. http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/harassment-facts.html
Shea, Robin. “5 Harassment Must-Haves for Employers.” Employment and Labor Insider, May 29, 2015.http://www.employmentandlaborinsider.com/harassment/5-harassment-must-haves-for-employers/
Wilkie, Dana. “Anti-Harassment Training Following the Supreme Court’s Vance Ruling.” Society for Human Resource Management, July 16 2013. http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/employeerelations/articles/pages/anti-harassment-training-following-supremecourt-vance-ruling.aspx
“Workplace Harassment Benchmark Survey Demonstrates How Organizations are Addressing New and GrowingEmployment Law Challenges.” NAVEX Global, May 20 2013. http://www.navexglobal.com/company/press-room/workplace-harassment-benchmark-survey-demonstrates-how-organizations-are
This article is intended only as a general discussion of these issues & we cannot guarantee the accuracy thereof. It does not purport to provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If such advice is needed, please consult with your attorney, accountant, or other qualified adviser. The Views expressed here do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is for general guidance of matter only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Accordingly, the information provided herein is provided with the understanding that Deerfield Advisors is not engaged in rendering legal advice. Deerfield Advisors strongly advises that clients and/or the reader of this publication contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem discussed here. Also, please know that discussions of insurance policy language is descriptive only. We strongly advise that one’s individual policy & one’s advisor be consulted regarding this subject matter before any action is taken in any way. Coverage afforded under any insurance policy issued is subject to individual policy terms and conditions. The Deerfield Advisor White Paper Series is a registered trademark of Deerfield Asset Management Inc. DBA, Deerfield Advisors and is produced by Deerfield Advisors for the benefit of its clients, and any other use is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2015