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Dos and don'ts for employer responses to sexual harassment

When someone in a workplace reports an issue of sexual harassment, an employer should take action. However, the type of action that an employer takes is critical to both the employer and employee. The wrong actions can actually result in a situation that is retaliatory in nature, and this could happen even when the employer has good intentions regarding the matter.

When someone reports a possible issue of sexual harassment, an employer should investigate the matter. To reach this point, however, the employer must have a safe and confidential means for individuals to make complaints. If someone feels that they will report an issue and that information will be shared freely with others, they are less likely to do so. If only one person in the entire company takes such reports, there's a chance that that person could harass someone and no one would ever report it. Employees should have viable options for making such reports.

Once a report is made, employers should investigate the issue and take appropriate action. That action should never be punishment of the person who did the reporting. Even moving that person to a new position to "alleviate discomfort" could be seen as retaliation -- although this might not always be the case. Employers should definitely not fire, demote or otherwise alienate someone who has reported an issue.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and you feel that you employer does not have an appropriate reporting policy or you feel that your report has spawned harassment, it might be time to talk to someone outside of your workplace. In such a case, if the employer has not appropriately responded to your complaint, you could have the basis for a legal case in Sacramento.

Source: Dummies.com, "How to Deal (with) Sexual Harassment Claims from Your Employees," Max Messmer, accessed March 18, 2016

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