At the beginning of 2018, we advised our business clients to expect sexual harassment claims to increase. This advice was in response to various high profile sexual harassment claims and the #MeToo Movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace.
Consistent with these predictions, it was reported on 9/17/2018 by Chris Opfer for Bloomberg’s Human Resources Report (subscription required) that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw an increase in sexual harassment claims this year as compared with 2016. Notably, this increase occurred as the total discrimination and harassment claims dropped.
According to Bloomberg, this information came from EEOC data, which will eventually become public upon a final verification of the EEOC filings.
Considerations for Sexual Harassment Prevention
In the meantime, employers must continue to recognize that zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault should be the norm.
But simply saying you have a zero tolerance workplace when it comes to discrimination is not enough. Items employers should consider in developing policies for preventing and defending sexual harassment claims include:
- An affirmative statement of employers’ commitment to maintaining a workplace free from all forms of harassment and sexual harassment.
- Having a good Anti-retaliation provision. Harassment and sexual harassment policies should emphasize that anyone who files a complaint about harassment or sexual harassment or is involved in related investigations are protected from retaliation.
- Meaningful and continued employee training. While training is generally not required under federal law, training can help prevent harassment; and
- A procedure for a fair and thorough investigation of all complaints.
Contact employment attorney Jason Shinn for more information about best practices for complying with federal and Michigan employment laws, including preventing sexual harassment claims. Since 2001, he has represented clients in claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans sex, race, religion, and other forms of bias in the workplace.