Almost every employer in the Chicago area will want to have a sexual harassment policy as part of their employment handbook.
Not only is it a good thing to do, having a policy also may protect the firm from legal liability, especially against sexual harassment claims based on a hostile work environment.
But it is not enough for a company just to have a policy against sexual harassment. The policy should specifically cover several important points.
For example, the policy should make a clear declaration that the firm will take all complaints of sexual harassment seriously. With the appropriate words, the policy should also promise that the firm will punish violations of the policy swiftly and effectively.
While having this clear statement is important, it is equally if not more important for the firm actually to enforce its harassment policy consistently and without any sign of favoritism.
An effective reporting and investigation process is a key component
With a detailed reporting and investigation process, an employer may be able to avoid liability for the harassing behavior of non-supervisors. It may also avoid liability for the behavior of a victim’s supervisor if the claim is based on a hostile work environment.
The business’s sexual harassment policy will need to set out clearly how and to whom to report harassment internally.
It should also assure a victim of as much privacy as possible and should provide several ways to report harassment. After all, requiring a victim to report misconduct to a manager is fruitless if the manager is also the perpetrator.
Likewise, the policy should also set out an objective investigation process. The investigation should as much as possible protect the accuser and involve people whose partially cannot be easily questioned.
Drafting an effective sexual harassment policy is an important legal step. Even with a good policy, though, sometimes businesses will need to defend their legal interests against a claim of sexual harassment.