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When employers fail to take action in cases of sexual harassment

Employers in Minneapolis and across the state are legally and ethically obligated to take certain steps in order to minimize their employees’ exposure to sexual harassment at the workplace. Although it is impossible for companies to prevent sexual harassment from occurring altogether, employers have a responsibility to take action in a situation where a worker has filed a harassment complaint.

Some employers may miss the mark when it comes to responding to reported incidents. In some cases, an employer may even react to the situation by punishing the employee who filed the complaint. Companies may have guidelines regarding sexual harassment training and filing complaints, but then fail to initiate a comprehensive evaluation of the situation when a complaint is filed. As a result, the employee may be forced to face continued abuse, or even quit in order to escape the toxic work environment.

According to the American Bar Association, companies should incorporate the following into their sexual harassment policies in order to protect their employees.

  •          Let all employees know the sexual harassment policy as well as the specific steps to take if they should need to file a complaint.
  •          Allow employee safeguards to prevent retaliation from taking place against those who file complaints.
  •          Ensure all employees understand what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace.
  •          Have a clear-cut procedure for investigating harassment claims.
  •          Enforce strict consequences against the harassers.

The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault reported that victims of sexual harassment should let a manager or supervisor know as soon as possible following the incidents. Whether the harassment has been going on for weeks, months or years, workers should file a complaint and follow-up to ensure proper action is taken.

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