As a business owner in the state of Texas, the last thing you want is to be facing a harassment lawsuit.
It is extremely difficult to be responsible for the actions of every employee, and sometimes harassment happens in one of its many forms right under your nose. You may have no idea.
However, it is important to know the ignorance is not a valid defense.
That is why every business should have anti-harassment policies in place that help minimize liability for the company as a whole.
What should a clear written policy on harassment accomplish?
- Define harassment in every capacity: Harassment can come in a verbal, written, physical or visual form. Types of harassment include but are not limited to discriminatory, racial, sexual, age-based, disability, religious and cyber harassment.
- Have a zero-tolerance stance on harassment: This is important. Make it explicitly clear that any form of harassment will not be tolerated, and serious action will be taken if necessary.
- Clearly detail how to report circumstances of harassment: Have procedures in place for filing a report. Make sure every employee understands the procedure and with whom to file the report.
- Make sure every employee knows that there are serious consequences for violating the policy: Not only should your employees know that there will be consequences for instances of harassment, but those consequences should be spelled out up to termination.
- Have systems in place to investigate claims and to make decisions in harassment situations: When a claim is filed, your company should have an action plan for how an investigation will take place, who is responsible to perform the investigation, and, ultimately, who makes decisions for a course of action following the conclusion of the investigation.
Having a written company policy on harassment is only the first step of many to limiting your company’s liability in instances of harassment.
It is always a good idea to work with trusted legal personnel when developing anti-harassment policies for your new business.