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Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

With workplace sexual harassment dominating news headlines for the last month, it may be a good time for employees and employers to reconsider the topic and how it may affect them. As an employee, you may be wondering what you can do if you experience sexual harassment in the workplace. On the other hand, as an employer, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent sexual harassment in your company or what you can do it if does occur. At Lardiere McNair, we are here to help you craft a sexual harassment policy and understand what it means to have a sexual harassment policy in your employee handbook.

In order to detect sexual harassment, it may be helpful to know exactly what the term means. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “sexual harassment” describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. The kinds of behaviors that can constitute sexual harassment depend on the situation and the people involved. However, the standard used in court is usually what a “reasonable person” would deem as sexual harassment. Some examples of sexual harassment may include sexual teasing, jokes or comments, massages or sexual touching, certain personal gifts, the display of sexually suggestive material, and personal questions about an individual’s sexual life.

As an employer it is important that you make it clear, in writing, that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. It is also important to make sure each of your employees is aware of and understands your written policy. Lardiere McNair is here to help you draft that written policy, which should contain information about how and to whom complaints can be made. Should sexual harassment occur, employers should also investigate any allegation and take reasonable steps to eliminate any existing sexual harassment.

As an employee it is important that you have read and understand your company’s harassment policy. If you believe you have been subject to or witnessed sexual harassment, you should follow the harassment policy and report the behavior to the appropriate individual. This is especially important, because employers are often only legally responsible if the harassment was properly reported and the employer fails to address the issue. On the other hand, you, as an employee, should also make sure that your conduct cannot be in any way construed as sexual harassment.

Lardiere McNair is here to help learn what your rights and responsibilities are when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace. Lardiere McNair can help you craft proper workplace policies and procedures that help reduce the risk of sexual harassment occurring. Give us a call if you want to draft or revise a sexual harassment provision in your employee handbook.

Alexandria Nagel is a Law Clerk at Lardiere McNair, LLC.  To read more about our firm, please visit www.lmcounsel.com.

The information presented here has been prepared by Lardiere McNair for promotional and informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.  This information is not intended to provide, and receipt of it does not constitute, legal advice.  Nor does the receipt of this material create an attorney/client relationship.  An attorney client relationship is not established until such time as Lardiere McNair enters in to a written engagement agreement with a specific client for a specific legal matter.

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