Addressing Harassment in the Workplace

Addressing Harassment in the Workplace

An unfortunate hazard in the workplace that can’t be ignored is harassment. You already know harassment is not accepted anywhere, but you may be asking why harassment is a safety issue that involved workplace training. When you consider the common safety topics for businesses today, physical injuries are not the only areas that can be potentially problematic. Mental health is also a safety issue, and harassment of any kind can greatly affect a person’s emotional and psychological wellness. The mental toll alone is worth the safety topic coverage at the office, but additionally this strain actually leads to physical issues over time. Physical injuries include stress and fatigue, something that harassment contributes to. In the end, harassment, bullying, and threats have deeply negative impacts on human beings and it should never be tolerated in any setting.

As an employer, tackling harassment as a safety topic is critical to the success of your employees and the overall morale within the company. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considers harassment to be any unwelcome behavior toward a person based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or sexual orientation), pregnancy, national origin, older age (particularly anyone over 40), disability, or genetic information (including family history). The EEOC states: “Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”

Dealing with harassment should be a proactive approach. New hires need to know from the start that harassment is not tolerated, and it’s important to clarify exactly what harassment is. Every employee should have a training on appropriate and respectful behavior, and updates to this training need to be a priority. If harassment is suspected, action needs to be taken immediately, and each complaint needs to be handled honestly. Employer responsibilities include not engaging in harassment, developing a written policy and action plan for harassment prevention, developing and implementing reporting procedures, and ensuring all workers and supervisors know the policies and are following them. Worker responsibilities include acting is a respectful and reasonable manner in the workplace, reporting harassment as necessary (see something, say something), and complying with the company’s policies on harassment.

Some work environments have previously been lax about harassment issues, and this makes for a tricky process to get through. However, new training and policies must be put in place and executed in order to provide not only a safe workspace but a respectful one as well. Many companies opt to bring in a professional third-party company to come up with polices and manage the necessary trainings. This method is beneficial because employees realize quickly that management is serious about implementing the new policies and that they want their workplace to be a safe haven for all their employees. If you have any training needs on any topic, Shield-Safety is the most experienced source in Utah. We know how to handle all safety topics, including sensitive ones.

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