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Is that office romance bordering on sexual harassment? Prevent a lawsuit of Bikram Choudhury proportions!

by , 27 March 2013
It's not just lecherous old men who get away with sexual harassment. Even the founder of Bikram Yoga is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit. And sexual harassment is increasingly common in offices across the globe, especially as office romances heat up. Here's how to stop it in its tracks by implementing a sexual harassment policy in your workplace today.

Yoga's seen as the ultimate form of self-actualisation and a great way to boost your overall health.
Now, a former student has sued Bikram Choudhury, the millionaire founder of a wildly popular yoga franchise.
The reason?
He's been accused of sexual harassment, discrimination and defamation.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the lawsuit claims Choudhury said to a student, "I have never felt this way about anyone … should we make this a relationship?"
This counts as sexual harassment, even though nothing physical happened.
What exactly counts as sexual harassment?
Because sexual harassment occurs 'when one employee makes continued, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, to another employee, against his or her wishes,' explains About.HumanResources.
Sadly, this form of harassment is all too common in the workplace.
In fact, 77.8% of South Africans have been victimised at work, says FSP Business.
And sexual harassment is one of the most frequently reported incidents of workplace bullying, abuse and victimisation.
As an employer, you're obligated to provide your employees with a safe workplace, which includes being safe from sexual harassment
The only way to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace: Implement a sexual harassment policy in your business
You can prevent this in your workplace by including a sexual harassment policy in your business.
You also need to make sure all employees know what's acceptable and what's not, as some employees could feel they're just being 'friendly', says FSP Business.
So mention that even flirtatious behaviour can lead to a sexual harassment problem.
And remember that the lines between sexual harassment and office romance can become blurry. 
This means employees that feel uncomfortable around the constant displays of affection are likely to complain, so make sure employees know what's acceptable behaviour.
The easiest way to do so is to make sure that your employees understand your company's sexual harassment policy – it's the best way to protect your employees from sexual harassment in the workplace.
Subscribers to the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf can refer to chapter S01 in the handbook. Still not a subscriber? Click here now...

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