With a sexual harassment charge pending against ABC Bank, this company has begun to really take notice of the importance of understanding its responsibilities regarding sexual harassment. Because the firm has never been charged with any type of discrimination violation in the past, management had not been aware of the need to both understand the law and develop a company policy toward handling grievances employees may have. In light of ABC Bank’s current situation, recommendations would include making sure management understands the law and the firm’s responsibilities to its employees, developing a sexual harassment program, and communicating to employees the existence and the importance of the new plan through training.
Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to employers with 15 or more employees. There are two general categories of sexual harassment. These include Quid Pro Quo Harassment, in which sexual activity is demanded in order to keep a job, obtain a raise or promotion, or obtain any type of job-related benefit (Gomez-Mejia, Balkin, Cardy, 95). The other category of sexual harassment is Hostile Work Environment Harassment. In this category, harassment occurs when actions unreasonably hinder or change the employees’ work performance, or create a hostile or offensive working environment. To determine this, there are many factors that are usually examined. These include: whether the behavior was verbal, physical, or both; how frequently it occurred; whether it was hostile or obviously offensive; whether the alleged harasser was a co-worker or supervisor; whether others joined in; and whether the harassment was directed at more than one person. Typically, in hostile work environments, a pattern of conduct is needed to institute a charge. In contrast, a quid pro quo charge may only need a single incident to establish a claim. (Lawson).
Obviously, the best way to eradicate sexual harassment is to prevent it. In order to defend against a sexual harassment suit, a firm should try to establish that it “took reasonable measure to prevent and correct any sexual harassment in the workplace; and that the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities that the employer provided” (Lawson). For this reason, although it is not required by law, it is extremely important for a firm such as ABC Bank to establish a sexual harassment policy and to be sure that all employees are educated about the policy.
ABC Bank’s first step should be to develop a written sexual harassment policy. The policy should state not only that sexual harassment is against the law, but also that it is against company policy and that it will not be tolerated. Within the policy, ABC Bank should create a grievance procedure that makes it easy and comfortable for employees to file complaints so the firm is better equipped to come up with a solution “quickly and effectively.” ABC Bank should take every complaint seriously and respond to each one as quickly as possible (employment-law.freeadvice.com). A typical written policy outlines the purpose of the policy, definitions of harassment, and procedures for reporting harassment.
Finally, ABC Bank should establish a training program for all employees in order to communicate the importance of the issue. The training program should go over every aspect of the written plan and allow employees to look over the policy and ask questions. ABC Bank will greatly reduce their chances of facing more sexual harassment charges through the new written policy and training. By communicating to employees that these issues will be taken seriously and by outlining in the policy the definitions of harassment and grievance procedures, employees will become more aware of the issue and this will help to prevent intolerable behavior. Finally, through this policy and training, ABC Bank will also be better able to defend itself against any charges that arise in the future, by being able to prove that the firm does provide preventative and corrective opportunities to its employees. By taking advantage of these recommendations, ABC Bank will be better prepared to handle these situations in the future.