Ignoring Sexual Harassment Is Expensive: 5 Tips To Prevent Lawsuits

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checkIn the 1980s, after a $1 million dollar sexual harassment lawsuit against the government, I developed and conducted the first-ever training for federal employees. Fast forward thirty years and the workplace is still rampant with sexual harassment claims and lawsuits.

In 2006, the largest sexual harassment lawsuit ever, at $1 billion dollars, was filed. The complaint cites lewd behavior and reduced opportunities for women who returned to the job after maternity leave.

Sexual harassment in the workplace presents an ongoing and growing risk. From a purely business perspective, your organization stands to gain if it acts proactively. Not only is it the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Here are five tips:

  1. Act before a problem occurs. Failure to adopt a proactive and aggressive stance can result in costly lawsuits (averaging $250,000 not including legal fees), as well as loss of employee morale, decline in productivity, and erosion of an organization’s public image. It is less expensive to act now than to be involved in one lawsuit.
  2. Implement policies. Include sexual harassment, discrimination and dress code policies in your employee manual.
  3. Educate employees. The Supreme Court made it clear that training may protect an organization in a lawsuit. Educate employees about organizational policies and provide clear examples of inappropriate behavior.
  4. Make it safe to voice complaints. Implement a reporting system and make employees aware of it. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against an individual for filing or supporting charges of discrimination.  Train leaders how to listen and respond appropriately to complaints.
  5. Hold leaders accountable to model your company values. When leaders fail to live up to your organization’s values, employees become de-motivated and angry. Provide ongoing training, coaching and review of your leaders.

Read more in Employment Law

Judy Lindenberger "gets" leadership. She is the rare coach and trainer capable of coupling personal growth with professional development, which is why top companies and individuals invite her to work with them. Judy focuses on driving performance. From developing more impactful communications to helping successful leaders become even better; from navigating your career to managing conflict; your team will leave her programs with renewed energy and focus. Judy's background includes designing and facilitating the first-ever sexual harassment prevention training for federal workers, leading the management training department for a major financial organization, and creating a highly successful, global mentoring program for a Fortune 500 company which won the national Athena Award for Mentoring for two consecutive years. She is also a certified career coach and human resources consultant. A must hear speaker at industry conferences and a published author, Judy earned a B. A. in communications and an MBA in human resources. In her free time, Judy serves as Member, Board of Trustees, YWCA Trenton and Vice President, Hopewell Valley Regional School District. She is the Past President of the Board of SERV Achievement Centers, and is a trained community mediator and child advocate. SpecialtiesCustomized training (instructor-led and e-learning), career coaching, HR audits, organizational assessments, and human resources consulting. Contact: [email protected] or 609.730.1049.