Workplace discrimination and harassment are pervasive problems. Recently, there has been a flood of reports and allegations detailing such misconduct in industries ranging from entertainment to technology and this has led to national movements to stop sexual harassment and discrimination.
If you are a Minnesota employer, you can take steps to protect your employees from such behavior, while also reducing your risk of liability and negative headlines.
- Take a realistic look at your workforce. Think about your office culture and assess reporting structures to determine if there are any conditions that could foster bad behaviors. For example, do you require workers to report harassment to their direct supervisor, without giving an alternative for situations when the supervisor is the harasser? Also, look at the balance of male-to-female workers. As this Pew Research article notes, women who work in mostly-male workplaces are more likely to report discrimination.
- Review your harassment and discrimination policies. Make sure they are clear and available to everyone.
- Provide necessary training. Both managers and their subordinates can benefit from training to help them identify, respond to, and report misconduct. Provide this training as necessary, and consider refreshing that training as time goes by so the information stays up-to-date and consistent.
- Address reports of misconduct quickly and thoroughly. If a party reports harassment, do not wait for things to get worse or assume the situation will resolve itself. Failure to act and earnestly investigate the claims can leave you exposed to legal claims for inaction.
Discrimination and harassment claims can lead to serious consequences for multiple parties, so it is prudent to take action to prevent them. Business owners can also work with an attorney to respond to any claims that do arise swiftly and aggressively to attempt to resolve such employment issues before they lead to bigger, costlier problems.