In the wake of the #MeToo movement, now more than ever, it is necessary for businesses to review and strengthen their anti-harassment policies. In addition to costly litigation, sexual harassment leads to poor employee morale, retention, lower productivity, and customer backlash.
Employers can avoid liability in workplace harassment lawsuits under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) if they have an anti-harassment policy in place, coupled with a reporting process, and effective policies, which deter future harassment.
At Levine Staller, our employment lawyers assist organizations in developing safeguards to reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment in the workplace and provide training to managers and employees.
- Anti-harassment policy: It is imperative that businesses have a thorough written anti-harassment policy. The policy should spell out what types of behavior are inappropriate in the workplace. Businesses can help prevent harassment by making it clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy.
- Reporting Process: Businesses should have a formalized complaint procedure. The complaint procedure should not be limited to just those employees who have experienced harassment, but also employees who witness inappropriate conduct. We encourage employers to have multiple points of contact, as an employees’ direct manager may be the person engaging in the conduct.
- Investigation: Investigations are fact-finding missions. Investigators must gather relevant information, which should include any written and oral complaints, and the employees’ personal files. An investigation should also include an interview of those who have relevant information. In some circumstances, an independent investigation by a neutral third party may be appropriate.
- Anti-Retaliation: Employees often refrain from reporting harassment out of fear of retaliation. Employers must take steps to prohibit retaliatory conduct, including discharge and changes to the terms and conditions of employment, such as changes in job assignment. Employers must also ensure that co-workers do not bad-mouth or shame an employee for speaking out against harassment.
- Corrective Action: Any infractions of the anti-harassment policy needs to be dealt with promptly and be consistent with an established policy to send a clear message that harassment will not be tolerated.
- Training: One of the keys to stop harassment in the workplace and establish a defense to a liability claim is ensuring that supervisors and employees receive anti-harassment training.
By promoting a culture of inclusion and respect that includes a zero-tolerance policy and a safe and effective system of reporting and investigating harassment, companies can go a long way toward reducing the risk of loss.
Atlantic County Employment Law Attorneys at Levine Staller Defend and Protect Your Business Interests
Our employment law attorneys strive to provide preventative safeguards and solutions before employment issues arise and defend your interests when faced with litigation. We work with a variety of different businesses in diverse industries in handling employment matters that require discretion and skill. For more information about our legal team, call the Atlantic County employment law attorneys at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. at 609-348-1300, or contact us online. Our office is conveniently located in Atlantic City, and we serve clients throughout New Jersey, including those in Atlantic County, Cape May County, and Ocean County.