When you think of Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, or Lorena Bobbit what comes to mind? If you are like many people, Sexual harassment probably popped in your head. And because of these famous cases the number of sexual harassment complaints that the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Committee) has increased by more than 50%! Sexual harassment is a big issue nowadays in every business; if left unattended it could cost companies thousands, if not millions, in damages.
In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment was a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. From 1978 to 1980, sexual harassment cases brought against companies cost them $189 million. This number rose to $267 million from 1985-1987. Although this number jumped significantly, the rate of sexual harassment had not. Damages are just not numbers.
Sexual harassment can cause harm to a company’s image, reputation, customers, as well as their revenue. So why did Anita Hill not come forward with her claim of sexual harassment earlier? Well, in earlier years, women use to think in order to get along in the workplace they must “go with the flow” of whatever may happen in the office. Co-workers often looked negatively upon people who stuck up for themselves. Men’s behaviors at work had always been accepted without any questions. When women were sexually harassed they had no where to turn to either. Today, the EEOC receives more than 16,000 sexual harassment complaints in a year.
This is hardly the amount of situations that happen. 95% of sexual harassment incidents are left unreported! We cannot follow in our government’s footsteps down this road. Our so-called Congress is the worse place to work in dealing with sexual harassment. Until 1994, they were not under compliance with any laws for the protection of workers in the workplace.
Even the regulations of 1994 did not provide strict enforcement so the problem remains. Statistics have shown that in the Supreme Court one-third of the people has been a victim of some form of sexual harassment. A member of Congress harassed one in nine of these persons! 42% of women and 15% of men in the federal government have reported sexual harassment. Do you think our government does a great job of covering up things?It is estimated that nine out of ten women will be victims of sexual advances at work.
The courts are making it easier to hold a company liable for any sexual harassment behavior that occurs within the workplace. The employer does not even need to know that the sexual harassment is taking place for an employee to file a suit and win. It is almost impossible to find a “solution” or “magic key” that will end the problem. There is no guarantee that anything will prevent sexual harassment from happening. There are only suggestions that might help in depleting the problem. Developing an effective policy against sexual harassment is a must for any business.
Everyone in the company should become aware of this policy. It should include a statement stating that sexual harassment will not be tolerated at any level of employment. A procedure should be included as to how to report claims of sexual harassment. The plan needs to also contain penalties for violators and protection for the victims. Employers should raise the subject, express strong disapproval, inform employees of their rights to raise the issue, and develop methods to sensitize all concerned.
All policies are bound to fail if a company does not enforce them quickly, consistently, and aggressively. Members of management must take sexual harassment very seriously. Employees look up to management and if they see them joking about sexual harassment then they will too. Once a complaint if brought forward it is necessary for the business to be prompt and confidential in the investigation into the incident.
Every claim must be looked into no matter hoe trivial they might sound. Every investigation must be prompted and thorough. They must also be documented. Everyone involved with the investigation must preserve the information obtained.
If word gets out about the incident at hand the victim and/or harasser may face humiliation or the source might not be trusted. This may constitute, in future cases, that .