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Ways to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace

Since the 1960s, sexual harassment has been against the law, but that does not mean it has vanished in Minnesota or elsewhere in the U.S. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the eradication of sexual harassment relies substantially on prevention, including through policies and/or education.   

Defined as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature" that interferes with a person's ability to perform his or her work or creates an uncomfortable or hostile environment, sexual harassment can happen to anyone of any gender in a variety of situations.

According to HR Daily Advisor, there are a few ways to prevent this from occurring. Employers have a key role to play in eliminating sexual harassment from occurring; however, employees also have a part to play. The best way to educate employees is through an annual mandatory training program. It is especially important for any managers and supervisors to undertake it so that they know how to spot it.

Employees also need to be aware of how to officially lodge a complaint, as well as know how to act during a situation in which sexual harassment takes place, whether as victim or observer. In addition to training and communication, it is important to create a company culture that simply does not tolerate anything that could be considered harassment. 

This can be done through an anti-harassment policy that clearly communicates what behaviors will not be tolerated and might lead to severe consequences. Employees should also have a copy of the policy in their employee handbook. If you are unsure what to include, it is best to discuss it with a lawyer so that you also include information about laws from the state, local or federal government. 

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