The term “sexual harassment” has been in the news with great frequency. What is the key to a safe workplace for all? Virginia employers with five or more employees are legally bound to address issues of sexual harassment/discrimination. While there is no “cure all” for bad behavior, employers can implement straightforward steps that assist both employees and management alike. The following serves as a checklist:
1. Maintain up to date anti-harassment policies and procedures for investigating claims of sexual harassment.
Anti-sexual harassment policies should be updated regularly to reflect updates in local and federal law. These policies should provide clear guidance on how employees can report misconduct – and how it will be investigated. Failure to include a policy for reporting can result in issues being kept “secret” for an extended period – thereby amplifying issues.
2. Provide regular training.
No one employee is above anti-harassment training – starting with the most senior staff. Provide regular training to all employees that explains what actually constitutes harassment and what employees should do if experiencing or observing the behavior.
3. Execute policies and investigations uniformly.
Discrimination by its definition is treating certain individuals differently than other similarly situated individuals. All complaints of harassment should be addressed promptly and uniformly. This means that one employee should not be a given a “pass” if another employee is disciplined for the same conduct. This prevents issues in the long-term.
Theodora Stringham is an employment law attorney focusing on improving workplaces in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Click here to register to attend a complimentary training focused on Sexual Harassment and Remediation.
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Theodora Stringham focuses her litigation practice on providing diligent attention to clients’ needs. She distills complicated and contentious issues into a succinct and persuasive manner for negotiation and trial presentation.
Theodora litigates complex land use issues, including but not limited to, eminent domain/condemnation matters, zoning disputes, access, and valuation concerns. She has served as a fee counsel for the Virginia Department of Transportation and has also provided representation to individual landowners and developers alike.
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