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4 things every workplace should have to stop sexual harassment

Everyone in New Jersey, and indeed throughout the U.S., is entitled to a workplace that is free of sexual comments, requests for sex or similarly inappropriate activity. Both state and federal laws give victims of sexual harassment the right to seek damages in civil court.

These laws are partially meant to allow victims to be made whole when they are harmed by sexual harassment from a co-worker or supervisor. But they also serve as motivation for companies to try to make sure that no sexually inappropriate behavior happens among the workforce in the first place. Responsible employers do this by putting policies in place that make it clear that sexual harassment is absolutely unacceptable.

Readers may want to check with their employer to see if the following five policies are in place:

1. A written prohibition of sexual harassment. It should be gender-neutral, which recognizes that anyone can be the victim -- or source -- of this type of behavior, and cover a wide range of inappropriate actions.

2. A procedure for filing and investigating complaints. There should be people to contact. It should be clear how long an investigation will take, who will perform the investigation, and how appeals will be handled. Confidentiality should be guaranteed, and reports should be followed up on in a timely manner.

3. True enforcement. If someone in the company is found to be sexually harassing a co-worker, the harasser must be reprimanded in some way. Depending on the circumstances, this can range from a warning to more serious punishments, such as demotion, suspension or termination.

4. Anti-harassment training sessions. These sessions may include a presentation of the business’ anti-harassment policy. Workers can be educated on how to identify sexual harassment, and what to do when it occurs.

Source: Business Management Daily, “5 steps you must take to prevent and address sexual harassment,” Jan. 6, 2014

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