An EEOC Sexual Harassment Claim Can Be Terrifying Unless You’re Prepared!
An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC sexual harassment claim can be devastating to a business unless you have taken the necessary steps before hand to guard against this type of harassment in the workplace. In this case the best defense is a great offense long before an EEOC claim ever is lodged against your organization.
Remember sexual harassment as defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is any unwelcomed sexual behavior. Unfortunately nothing is ever that easy to define. A lot depends on what type of sexual behavior we are talking about, such as, physical versus verbal or staff versus management.
As an example if a man asks a women out on a date even if she is not interested it is not considered sexual harassment. On the other hand, once she has made it clear she is not interested and the man continues to ask her out, it then can become an EEOC sexual harassment violation. To further complicate it, if she is not interested but really never informs the man of that fact and he continues to ask her out it becomes a question of what would a reasonable person do or think. If a reasonable person would understand that she is not interested by simply continually declining his requests then it could be considered sexual harassment.
Now that we have determined what harassment is we can now determine how a business can become liable for the actions of their employees if they violate the EEOC Law. This question is answered by understanding whether or not an employer knew the behavior was going on and if so, what did they do about it. This is very complicated in some ways. Simply telling the EEOC that you had no idea it was taking place is not a defense at all. The reason for that is that management has a responsibility to know what is happening in their workplace, especially when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual discrimination.
The person filing the EEOC Claim will almost always state that they informed you, and if not that, they will state that the harassment was occurring out in the open within the workplace. Perhaps they will claim the harassment occurred during a staff meeting or training session of some kind where a management official was present.
The important steps that your business can do prior to this occurring are creating an environment that makes it clear you will not tolerate sexual harassment or sexual discrimination of any kind in the workplace. You can do this in many ways starting with the initial interview, your initial orientation, annual sexual harassment training classes, covering it in your employee handbook, writing a company policy, and finally taking immediate action to stop any types of harassment in the workplace when it is discovered. None of these types of actions will benefit you if any type of EEOC sexual harassment is allowed to take place with a manager’s knowledge.
Thank you and May God bless you!
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