Best Practices for Workplace Policies in the Age of #MeToo
Harvey Weinstein. Roger Ailes. Bill O’Reilly.
Steve Wynn. Matt Lauer. Charlie Rose.
Kevin Spacey. Louis CK.
Famous men who became infamous in the age of #MeToo.
Following the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, calls to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) are up 21 percent. The BBC has seen a sudden increase in sexual harassment claims and both France and Australia report increases in sexual harassment complaints following the Harvey Weinstein story and its sequelae. The groundswell is prompting rapid change in corporate behavior. Surprisingly, however, while traffic to the website of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, has increased, other reports indicate that as of early 2018 there has not been an increase in formal complaints.
Still, sexual harassment affects the bottom line of all employers with the EEOC reporting that employers paid $699 million via the EEOC’s pre-litigation process since 2010. This number does not include the economic indirect costs of lower productivity, higher turnover, and harm to the employer’s reputation.
Employers should establish a policy prohibiting harassment and set out a procedure for making complaints. The policy and procedure should be in writing, distributed to all employees, and should be enforced.
More important than an enforced written policy and clear procedure to make complaints, is an unmistakable message from the top leadership that no form of harassment will be tolerated in the organization. In conjunction with a zero-tolerance message from leadership, employers should train employees and management on the harassment policy by initiating training upon hiring and on a yearly basis thereafter. If a complaint is made, employers need to investigate it promptly and extensively, and if warranted, take effective remedial action based on the investigation. Finally, it is critical that employers do not retaliate against an employee who has made a complaint.
If you have questions about establishing a written sexual harassment policy or developing a complaint reporting procedure, reach out the Employment Law team at Teague Campbell.