Over the past few months (and if you go back a little longer, over the past few years), allegations of sexual harassment have permeated the media. Whether it be Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Al Franken, or Roy Moore, the media has had a field day in discussing sexual harassment issues. There have been numerous articles written about why "our culture" has allowed this phenomenon to exist. From the extremely high judicial standard in the Courts establishing within the Law proof of sexual harassment, to the fear of individuals to report sexual harassment because of its disdain, potential skepticism and shunning of the alleged victim, to the inability to fully investigate and document claims, all have been analogized as potential problem areas giving rise to the persistence of sexual harassment.
It is time for some very practical advice about the "Do's and Don't's" of sexual harassment:
- Do treat all of your coworkers with dignity and respect
- Do not treat your coworkers as potential sexual partners.
- Do reward and penalize Employees wholly and solely based on their job performance and other legitimate and measurable business criteria
- Do maintain an "imaginary wall" between your professional/business and personal life - do not prospect for partners in the fields that generate your income.
- Do say something and do something when you become aware of an individual who is being harassed.
- Do not require your employees or perspective hires to come to your home or hotel room for "private meetings".
- Do not under any circumstances become involved with anyone (male or female) below the age of majority.
- Do not date a subordinate (an employee that you supervise) and, if possible, do not date any employee.
Many people are developing a "checklist" of inappropriate behavior witnessed in the workplace to accuse the next person of sexual harassment. You do not want your name on that list!
Questions? Contact Walter Liszka in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9301 or by email at [email protected]