According to statistics from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, victims of sexual harassment recovered $43 million from employers in 2012 (the most recent year for which data is currently available).
Our sexual harassment lawyers in Orange County know that the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives a staggering number of sexual harassment complaints annually.
Sexual harassment is a serious issue in the United States. In fact, almost 7% of all sexual harassment complaints were filed in California. Of all employment charges filed in California 27.5% were related to sex.
Sexual harassment encompasses various behaviors as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 including when sexual favors are requested or other physical or sexual conduct affects a workers ability to complete their job without feeling intimidated.
In order for an employee to protect themselves against sexual harassment they must know the steps their organization should take to prevent sexual harassment.
If an employer is not taking the correct steps they are putting all employees at unnecessary risk.
First, every employer should have some type of written policy which prohibits all forms of sexual harassment. The policy should be written down and include terms that are gender neutral so that it is clear the policy applies to everyone (17.8% of sexual harassment complaints made in 2012 were made by men).
All employees, regardless of their position in the company should be aware of the sexual harassment policy’s existence and its contents.
Also, a complaint procedure should be a significant part of any sexual harassment policy. The procedure should be clear and simple and it should include contact phone numbers for employees to call. There should be both male and female contacts to ensure a complainant is comfortable with whomever they choose to call.
The complaint procedure should indicate who is responsible for investigating complains and who is responsible for deciding the outcome of an investigation and complaint. A time frame should be clearly identified so complaints are resolved within a consistent timeline.
Third, investigative procedures should be instituted. The accused individual will need to be interviewed as well as any potential witnesses and the accuser. All interviews should be conducted in a private fashion and the discussion during the interview should be kept confidential.
There should be a system to gather, recover, and record evidence. All parties should be treated with respect and dignity throughout investigative process. A gag order, which prohibits anyone from discussing the misconduct, is an important addition to any sexual harassment policy.
Lastly, it is extremely important to enforce any sexual harassment policies that are put into place. A lack of enforcement may embolden potential harassers who would be otherwise deterred.
Various punishments can be administered to a guilty harasser including: discharge, suspension, demotion, oral or written warning, and/or a deferral of a raise or promotion.
Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 949.375.4734.
EEOC Statistics for 2012, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
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