The disgusting and disquieting disclosures of sexual harassment should cause all employers to audit, assess and avoid the legal and employee relations liabilities of harassment. As many commentators have written, we, as a country, are in a special moment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state fair employment laws prohibit harassment based upon sex as well as the other protected classifications, such as race, color, national origin, age and disability. Moreover, harassment suits have been filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and state torts of harassment, assault and battery as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress. Although Title VII has a statutory cap on damages at $300,000, there are no damages caps under state laws. Besides the costs of lawsuits, companies incur costs in recruitment, retention, lack of succession planning, productivity and efficiency. Therefore, every employer needs to implement Masuda Funai's Anti-Harassment Toolset.™
The Toolset includes the following:
Assessment of potential harassment, by identifying the protected classifications of employees, the prior complaints of harassment as well as current rumors and a review of web-based evaluators, such as Glassdoor;
The C-Suite's Commitment of a corporate culture free of harassment, bullying, fear and inappropriate, non-business related comments and conduct by (a) providing information about the risks and costs, (b) obtaining, distributing and implementing a Statement of Values issued by the board of directors, (c) having members of the C-suite present at training programs and issuing statements confirming the company's values, and (d) holding all levels of supervision accountable for preventing violations of the company's culture and policies;
Anti-harassment policy, including (a) a prohibition of all types of harassment and retaliation for making complaints and participating in investigations, (b) trusted and accessible procedures for making and investigating complaints, (c) an assurance of confidentiality to the extent necessary, and (d) a clear statement that the company will hold violators accountable;
Investigation procedures developed and implemented by human resource professionals, including creating and implementing the proper techniques for (a) conducting investigations, (b) making and implementing management's decision whether a violation of the policy occurred, and (c) documenting the complaints, investigations, decision-making and implementation of remedial action; and
Training, including (a) highlighting and obtaining a new employee's sign-off on the policy during orientation, (b) providing yearly training programs current employees and special programs for supervisors and human resource professional implementing the policy and investigating complaints, and (c) including within the training realistic, company-specific, interactive examples of harassment based upon sex and other protected classification.
By implementing Masuda Funai's Anti-Harassment Toolset™, companies may effectively address the moment.