As a business owner, you have a duty to provide a work environment where your employees can feel safe and comfortable. If any of your employees are sexually harassed at the workplace, you can be vicariously held liable as the employer. Allegations of workplace sexual harassment can severely affect your business’s public image and reputation.
Given below are six tips from a Texas sexual harassment attorney on how to protect your business against these claims.
1. Review and revise your employee handbook and make sure it has a section dedicated to preventing workplace sexual harassment. It should clearly explain what constitutes sexual harassment, what kind of conduct is prohibited in the workplace, how victims of sexual harassment can file their complaints confidentially, and what kind of action will be taken against those who sexually harass other employees.
2. Consult with an experienced Texas sexual harassment attorney and include an arbitration clause in the employment contract as well as the employee handbook, so that claims of workplace sexual harassment can be sorted out privately without damaging your firm’s reputation.
3. Get your company’s policies, employment agreements, and handbooks regularly reviewed by a Texas sexual harassment attorney. Also, make sure they are effective and in compliance with the law.
4. Make it clear to all the employees that the identities of sexual harassment victims will be kept confidential. Explain that they will not be shared with any third-party (except law enforcement) for any reason.
5. Take every complaint seriously, investigate it, and take remedial action immediately. Recently, Texas passed two new laws (SB 45 and HB 21) that hold employers to a higher standard when it comes to taking action against sexual harassment allegations. Under the new law, you are required to take ‘immediate and appropriate corrective action’ when a complaint is filed, failing which you can be held liable for damages.
6. Conduct training programs for employees – especially for those in managerial positions – to make sure they understand what constitutes sexual harassment, how to identify and sort out problematic behavior, why fostering a culture of safety and inclusivity is important, and why it is essential for each employee to do their part to foster such an environment.
Make a Note of the Changes in Texas Law
It should be noted that the recently passed laws have significantly expanded the definition of the term ‘employer’ with respect to workplace sexual harassment claims. Earlier, only those who employed 15 or more people could be held liable for workplace sexual harassment.
Under the new laws, anyone who employs one or more employees can be held liable for workplace sexual harassment claims. Pertaining to this, it’s fundamental for you to consult with a Texas sexual harassment attorney. That way, you will take the necessary steps to protect your business against workplace sexual harassment claims.
Need to Protect Your Business against Sexual Harassment Claims? Our Austin Sexual Harassment Attorneys Can Help You.
At Hines & Holub, we know the impact a sexual harassment lawsuit can have on your business and your public image. In fact, our board-certified attorneys can work with you and formulate the right policies against workplace sexual harassment. Plus, they can help you implement them effectively.
We can also vigorously defend your business against claims of sexual harassment. Also, we can make sure your reputation is not ruined by meritless accusations by disgruntled employees. In order to talk to one of our seasoned Austin sexual harassment attorneys, call us today at 512-883-5386. Or, contact us online and schedule a free consultation.