All Employers Should Have a Sexual Harassment Policy

On your first day on the job, your employer probably will give you a handbook that spells out the company policies about vacation pay, sick leave, and paid benefits. You skim through it, and you think you’ve landed on a great company based on the benefits.

Did you find the section on sexual harassment in the workplace and how to report it? It’s worth taking a look at that, too, provided the company has one.

A 2015 study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission showed that 60% of women said they were victims of unwanted sexual attention, sexist comments, sexually crude comments, and sexual coercion. (Remember men can be sexually harassed on the job, too.) The study also revealed that 90% of employees who believe they were harassed don’t file a formal complaint, and 75% don’t say anything to their bosses, either. In many cases, they may be unsure how to make a report — especially if their employer doesn’t have a clearly defined policy.

West Virginia employers should have a sexual harassment policy and update it as circumstances warrant. Workplace experts also recommend at least annual training that emphasizes what happens after a complaint is filed as well as the potential effects if an employee is found to have violated the policy.

The policy also should be clear on how an employee should report a claim, and employers should be ready to investigate and take action if it is warranted.

No one should go to work fearing sexual comments or conduct from a colleague and supervisor, and your company should have a chain of command to handle complaints. If your complaint is not adequately addressed, legal representation might be needed.

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