Stopping Harassment at the First Incident Ensures Employer Compliance in Business and at Work

In the course of my work conducting Harassment Prevention and Awareness Training as well as investigating and remediating employee harassment complaints over the last 25 years or so, I emphasize that good employer Anti-Harassment policies are stronger than regulation and law.  In other words, a good employer Anti-Harassment policy is structured to prevent employees (as well as supervisors and the employer) from violating state and federal law by clearly defining the employer’s responsibility for progressive corrective action and effective intervention to stop the first (and ideally, not) subsequent policy violations. In all cases, the employer’s intervention must stop any and all acts of harassment.

Among other key components of a solid Anti-Harassment policy is a clear internal process for employees to register harassment complaints (including but not limited to multiple complaint contacts, such as the HR leader, a Board of Directors liaison, a third-party Ombudsperson, etc.) without fear of retaliation; and after an expeditious and well-documented investigation – I can’t say it enough – the employer must ensure that the harassment stops.

Conversely, financial punishment for multiple / repetitive harassment incidents after the fact from the same harasser (e.g., The Weinstein Company’s employment contract with former CEO Harvey Weinstein to fine him financially for each harassment incident he caused, escalating from a fine of $250,000 to $1 million for each act of harassment) did not constitute the employer stopping Harvey Weinstein’s repeated and pervasive harassment bordering on alleged criminal conduct. Instead, it served to conveniently document the company’s overwhelming failure to stop Weinstein’s harassment, as well as the Board’s clear and long-term violation of state and federal Anti-Harassment laws and regulations.  In this scenario, a competent HR leader, Board Chair, independent audit firm and employer-side labor attorney would have recommended firing both Weinstein and his Board – sooner rather than later.

How does your organization maintain compliance and minimize cost exposure by decisively preventing and stopping harassment in business and at work?




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