Workplace Harassment Training - Its Not Always Sexual Harassment

Category: Articles
Posted: 01-15-2011 03:26 AM
Views: 1171
Synopsis:

Harassment in the workplace remains a difficult, touchy subject for most companies.  However, harassment is an extremely important legal challenge that could cost a company millions in lost productivity and legal costs.  Companies need to focus on harassment training for all of their employees.

Harassment in the workplace remains a difficult, touchy subject for most companies.  However, harassment is an extremely important legal challenge that could cost a company millions in lost productivity and legal costs.  Companies need to focus on harassment training for all of their employees.

Defining Harassment

Harassment doesn't necessarily mean sexual harassment. Workplace harassment comes in many forms - race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, age, disability and many more.  These classes of employees are protected by local and federal laws.  Employees make the mistake in assuming that harassment is sexual in nature only, but while that is an important aspect of harassment all forms of harassment prevention training is crucial to avoiding legal hassles and employee morale.


Harassment isn't always direct.  Hostile workplace harassment can occur even when the victim isn't targeted.  If the workplace is full of jokes, pictures and other overt behaviors the courts have ruled that a bystander can file a workplace harassment claim. 

It's also important to note that the harassment has be continuous, unwanted and reach the "reasonable person" standard.  This means that if a reasonable person would find the behavior offensive then it meets the standard.  In addition, the harassment must be against one of the protected classes mentioned above.  Harassment or bullying of non-protected classes may be against company policy but it is not illegal.

Responding to Harassment

If you are harassed or you witness a co-worker getting harassed the appropriate response is to your supervisor or to human resources.  Many times it is a good Samaritan that makes the report and assists in getting the harassment stopped.  Training the entire organization on how to stop harassment will assist management in prevention.   Many times the victim feels alone and afraid of reporting the harassment.  Once the report has been made a thorough investigation should be undertaken that is fair and impartial to both parties.

This company's response could vary from a warning to a suspension to outright termination and sometimes even a report to law enforcement.  Whatever the response, the important thing is to respond quickly.  A poor response could easily lead to a lawsuit and it will definitely lead your employees to believe that the company isn't taking the harassment seriously.  This could have dire repercussions down the line.

Treating Others Respectfully

Stopping harassment starts with respect.  When their is a lack of respect, team unity falls apart, there is low morale and eventually there is harassment.  An easy way to stop harassment, encourage all employees to follow the "golden rule" and treat others like they would like to be treated.

Charlie Bentson King is a writer and producer of training videos for TrainingABC. TrainingABC is a distributor of harassment video and harassment DVD programs.

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