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Best in Law: Four steps employers can take to avoid a #MeToo situation

By in Press Enterprise on December 24, 2017

By Tristan Kirk, Joseph T. Ortiz

With revelations about high-profile sexual harassment cases are emerging weekly in the wake of the #MeToo movement, a long-overdue conversation about harassment has begun. Workplace harassment is a current and serious problem that employers have a duty to affirmatively address.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing stated in its 2016 annual report that, “sexual harassment cases remain prevalent across industries and economic sectors . . . .” Ignoring or mishandling claims can devastate morale and result in costly litigation.

Now, more than ever, responsible employers are taking steps to ensure a harassment-free workplace. Below are four fundamental actions every employer should take …

Effective policies

Employers must adopt a clear and easy-to-understand written policy prohibiting all forms of harassment, as well as a clear and effective internal complaint procedure. California regulations govern what must go in your harassment policy. These regulations were amended by the DFEH in April 2016. These new regulations now require that all anti-harassment policies identify all protected groups under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, provide a detailed internal complaint procedure that complies with specific requirements, inform employees that they will not be retaliated against for utilizing the complaint procedure, and explicitly state that supervisors and third parties are covered by the policy. If your current policies have not been revised since then, they are likely out of date.

Anti-harassment policies are worthless unless employees are aware of them and they are consistently and fairly enforced. Employers must ensure that their policies are distributed to all employees and the are provided in other languages if spoken by at least 10 percent of the workforce.

Depth of bench

Human resource departments are often very underrated divisions of companies of all sizes. Human resource professionals ensure compliance with the complex web of state and federal laws that California employers must follow. It is […]    

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