If your client harasses your employee while she's on duty, you have to put a stop to it!
Picture this... You have a rather attractive interior designer working for you. She's working on a new night club. And your client propositions her. Asking her to come back and 'do a dance' for them on the pole on the stage.
She lodges a complaint with you about this. You have a duty to provide a safe workplace free from discrimination. And harassment is a form of discrimination... Even though the person who harassed her doesn't work for you, you still have a duty to do all you can to put an end to the harassment. It doesn't matter if it means confronting the harassing party or reporting the matter to the company where the client works.
And you must take steps to prevent and deal with harassment in your company. Because, as an employer, your employee can hold you liable for discrimination that happens in the workplace. This includes your managers, employees, and even harassment by customers, suppliers, and others who do business with you.
Keep reading to find out more...
2 out of 5 women in South Africa have been victims of some form of sexual harassment in the workplace!
According to statistics, two out of five women in the workplace have been victims of some form of sexual harassment...
And this is only reported cases!
By taking unreported cases into account, experts believe this figure could be as high as four out of five women!
But this doesn't mean it's only women who get sexually harassed in the workplace. The truth is, employees can be sexually harassed no matter what their gender.
As their employer, the law requires you to both prevent and deal with sexual harassment complaints in an even-handed manner that protects the alleged victim, while also ensuring that false claims are investigated and dealt with...
The best way to reduce your liability is to have policies and procedures in place. These must show you do everything you can to prevent harassment. As a bonus, having a policy will help you deal with any complaints you get about your own employees doing the harassing.
The following is a "top ten" list of the essentials to prevent and deal with harassment:
Establish an effective complaint procedure and encourage employees to feel comfortable coming to you with any problems they face at work. Include any examples of harassment that might happen.
Create and communicate your anti-harassment policy.
Treat any incident as if it's a court case from the minute you receive the report. Most importantly, notify your attorney right away.
As the employee who claims sexual harassment to tell you what outcomes she's looking for.
Quickly investigate any reports you receive. Keep a paper trail of your efforts and findings.
Don't take any action that could harm the person lodging the complaint. For example, don't transfer the complaining party to a worse location to separate the parties.
Do whatever is necessary to stop the harassment immediately.
Restore any job benefits that the employee lost because of the harassment. For example, if she lost out on her bonus or salary increase because she wouldn't go along with her bosses advances.
Discipline the person guilty of the harassment. If disciplinary action isn't necessary, document the reasons why.
Take action to correct past discrimination based on the harassing conduct.
Document the investigation thoroughly and all the steps you took to fix the situation.
See below for what you need to look at when drawing up your harassment procedure...
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Establishing a procedure for harassment complaints
Harassment complaints are a serious matter. Keep the following in mind to address these claims:
Take every complaint seriously.
Investigate every complaint and keep a paper trail.
Don't make judgements based on the reputation of the person complaining, or the person accused of harassment. In a very small business where you know all the employees quite well, this is difficult to do. Do your best to be objective, until you investigate the complaint properly.
Don't assume the person complaining is just being oversensitive.
Don't leave it to the parties to work it out between themselves. Unless the employee says she wants to deal with it informally. You still need to get this on record and get the employee to confirm in writing.
Not all employees will label unwelcome conduct as harassment. An employee might complain about 'unprofessional conduct' or 'inappropriate behaviour'. Ask her to describe the conduct in detail.