Each day in the news we hear more and more about sexual harassment in the workplace. In some cases, the employer has been held liable for their employee’s improper acts. So, how can an employer avoid such liability? By establishing a proper anti-harassment policy.
Having a well written anti-harassment policy not only protects the employees, it protects the employers who provide employees with a way to report and resolve issues of harassment in a prompt and consistent manner. In 1998, the United States Supreme Court stated that an employer is entitled to an affirmative defense against liability if an employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any sexually harassing behavior and that the harassed employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer or to avoid harm otherwise. Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998).
Creating an anti-harassment policy is only the first step. Employers should review their policy to make sure that the policy is adequate under current law. In the Faragher case, the court found that while the employer had an established policy, it was insufficient. It is highly recommended that if an employer does not have an anti-harassment policy, they should establish one, and any employer who does have a policy should have it reviewed by an attorney if it has not been reviewed in the last two years to ensure that it conforms to the current federal and state laws.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Laura M. Trujillo