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Our Working Theory: Creating a Respectful Workplace Is the Antidote to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

December 6, 2023

Top 10 Takeaways from Clark Hill Labor & Employment Webinar, Dec. 6, 2023

Thanks to all of you who joined our webinar on Dec. 6 discussing creating respectful workplaces to deter harassment claims. Here are the top 10 takeaways from the webinar for practical application of the concepts we discussed.

  1. Despite policies, training, and publicity, sexual harassment claims continue to be filed in courts and before administrative agencies, with the EEOC placing strategic enforcement emphasis on eradicating such claims and recovering substantial sums from employers for violations.
  2. The EEOC proposed new guidance on harassment explicitly expanding coverage to claims of harassment based on sexual orientation, sexual identity, and sexual expression; expanding protection to bystanders who witness harassment; eliminating the requirement for economic harm; and modifying the definition of “unwelcome” conduct.
  3. The trend of many states is to refine the standard definition of hostile environment from a strict “severe and pervasive” analysis to one more reflective of context and totality of circumstances.
  4. Employers may be well-served by examining policies and complaint procedures to ensure both serve their workforce and provide ample means to address concerns, including by anonymous reporting.
  5. Culture is a key driver of the absence or prevalence of such sexual harassment claims.
  6. Empowering your workforce to become upstanders and allies will further a respectful culture.
  7. Engaging in inclusion activities where employees truly get to know their diverse colleagues and welcome and embrace differences will lead to greater understanding and civility.
  8. While not mandatory in every state, training on workplace conduct, including sexual harassment, is a best practice.
  9. Employers may want to add leadership, allyship, and bystander intervention training and incorporate these values into the culture.
  10. Employers who create a culture of psychological safety, where employees are free to express complaints and are confident that bad actors will be held accountable, foster an environment that normalizes reporting of workplace concerns and eliminates fear of retaliation.

If you missed the webinar, you can view it here.

If you would like help implementing any of these strategies, please feel free to reach out to Maria Dwyer, Vanessa Kelly, or the Clark Hill attorney with whom you regularly work.

This publication is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or a solicitation to provide legal services. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel. The views and opinions expressed herein represent those of the individual author only and are not necessarily the views of Clark Hill PLC. Although we attempt to ensure that postings on our website are complete, accurate, and up to date, we assume no responsibility for their completeness, accuracy, or timeliness.

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