In the wake of the #MeToo! movement, my phone has been ringing off the hook with requests for me to offer training sessions on preventing and reporting sexual and other unlawful harassment in the workplace. While most companies should have been doing this all along (and many were), the high profile stories from across the country seem to have provided renewed motivation.
The rules haven’t changed. Employers need to provide a workplace free of unlawful harassment. But even where a rogue supervisor engages in improper conduct, the company can avoid liability if it can show that it used “reasonable care” to prevent the harassment and that the victimized employee failed to take advantage of protections offered by the company.
So what does “reasonable care” look like? Clear policies and safe reporting procedures with thorough, ongoing employee training on both. Copying and pasting an online Anti-Harassment Policy into your outdated employee handbook and asking everyone to sign and acknowledge receipt won’t cut it.
You need a serious policy, and you need to train to it. And you probably need help doing it.