With sexual harassment complaints dominating the news nationwide, it is likely to cause more lawsuits against employers. Wayne Young spoke to Arkansas Business's Mark Friedman on what companies should be doing now to prevent harassment altogether and to protect themselves against future litigation.
Excerpt from "Harassers Put Employers In Legal Peril" in Arkansas Business
Employers can protect themselves from sexual harassment lawsuits if they have a “good policy in place that prohibits harassment of that nature of any kind,” said H. Wayne Young, who is a partner with the law firm Friday Eldredge & Clark in Little Rock and is a member of its Labor & Employment Law Practice Group. He said companies also should have a procedure that employees feel comfortable with using to report harassment that they have experienced or observed.
“It’s very important that the company communicates with the employees about the policy and makes sure they understand the company is serious about the policy,” Young said. “And they intend to enforce it.”
Young said he also advises companies to have more than one way to report their complaints, such as a hotline for employees to call.
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Wayne adds that it is critical for companies to have a culture where harassment is unacceptable and where employees can report harassment without fear of retaliation. A perfectly worded policy that is not respected, implemented and enforced is nonetheless ineffective. Companies should have regular training and ongoing conversations about the workplace to make sure small problems do not grow into large issues.
Wayne is a partner in the firm and a member of the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. He was named the 2017 Russell Gunter Legislative Advocacy Award Recipient by the Arkansas SHRM. The award recognizes outstanding contributions of time and effort in local, state or federal legislative advocacy on behalf of the Human Resources profession.