In California and across the United States, employers are scrambling to craft policies to address allegations of workplace wrongdoing. Currently, the most notable workplace transgression is sexual harassment. Of course, there are others such as discrimination, wrongful termination, bullying, wage issues, failure to adhere to the law for worker rights and more. As an increasing number of employers and prominent people are taken to task, it becomes even more crucial for those in charge to know how to protect themselves. It has gotten to the point where an accusation is almost immediately taken as fact prior to an investigation. For employers, gathering information on having a safe workplace is fundamental. After the allegations have been made, it is vital to know how to defend against the claims.
Pew Research polls on harassment show employers what to watch for
As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigns because of a litany of sexual harassment accusations, Pew Research looks back at its 2018 surveys regarding sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. The polls were conducted right after the #MeToo movement grew in prominence as victims decided they would no longer simply take the mistreatment quietly. The claims spanned multiple industries in the business, entertainment and political world.
Two of the most striking issues that the pollsters found was that nearly half of those surveyed believed that a major challenge with preventing sexual harassment and assault was that men got away with the behavior without punishment and women were not believed. When split into genders, more than half of the women who took part said they thought failure to believe women was a sticking point. Men were generally less inclined to think that women were not believed and that men committed their acts with impunity.
As men try to interact with women in professional settings, the number of harassment claims has become a primary worry. Fifty-one percent of adults who were polled said it was increasingly difficult for men to know how to act out of fear that anything they said and did could be construed as harassment. Twelve percent said it was easier and 36% believed it was the same. Nearly 60% of women and 27% of men claimed to have been subjected to harassment in a physical and verbal way or had unwanted sexual advances made against them. Sixty-nine percent of women said this happened on the job. Still, around one-third of people said that women might make false accusations and that men were fired before the facts were fully analyzed.
More recent polls suggest that around 57% of adults did not believe that women were being given the same rights as men on the job, although 65% stated there was significant progress toward that end. More than three-quarters said that sexual harassment is a continuing challenge in women being treated equally in the workplace.
Employment law is all-encompassing and assistance is important
Employment law goes beyond dealing with allegations as they arise. From the outset, employers should be fully cognizant of how to protect employees and, simultaneously, protect themselves with preventative measures. That can include employment counselors, having advice on how to handle investigations, a comprehensive employee handbook that covers all the bases and taking other common sense steps.
Even though many cases end with the employer needing to settle the claim or facing a large payout, there are still avenues of defense that can be explored. Adhering to the protocol when investigating an assertion that harassment has taken place is imperative. If the details are recorded and punishment meted out if they were shown to be true, the employer will have taken a step to shielding the business from future claims. If there is evidence to the contrary of what was claimed, this is also needed to cobble together a defense.