What Employers Should Know About Sexual Harassment and Why They Should Have a Written Policy

October 30, 2013

Sexual harassment in any workplace is completely unacceptable and it can be difficult for employees to seek out legal services. Here’s what employers need to know:

What is sexual harassment?

The law defines sexual harassment as an unwanted sexual advance, which includes two different types of harassment in practice.

  • Quid pro quo” harassment means that the victim is made to perform unwanted sexual favors in exchange for job benefits, including remaining employed, receiving promotions or increases in salary, and other employment conditions. This type of sexual harassment is often a blatant abuse of power on the part of a supervisor or boss. The person being harassed is often afraid to confront the harasser, due to feelings of guilt or shame or fear of retribution.
  • Sexual harassment can also mean that an aggressor is creating a hostile environment for the victim or victims. If the work environment is demeaning to the victim or creates shame or embarrassment, then the perpetrator has created a hostile environment. This can be done through sexual commentary or jokes or through images that are intended to be disgusting or degrading. A hostile environment can also be created through commentary that is racist, xenophobic, or highly offensive to people of different religions or ages.

The Need for a Written Policy

A written policy against sexual harassment and discrimination should very clearly delineate the expectations of everyone in the workplace and make clear which behaviors are unacceptable. The policy should also state what the consequences are for anyone who does not comply and should outline the complaint process for a person who has been harassed.

A policy and related training can help for two reasons. First of all, a policy and training program brings the issue to light – when staff members know that sexual harassment is unacceptable in the workplace, they are much more likely to comply. Secondly, it is imperative that everyone in a workplace knows the laws surrounding sexual harassment. Most importantly, policies should be put in place for the victims of sexual harassment.

If you need the assistance of a lawyer for a sexual harassment case in Maryland, do not hesitate to call Singleton Law Group for a consultation.

 

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