Sexual harassment has become one of the most frequently litigated employment law claims in Arizona and in the United States.
This is because of its notoriety and publicity that surrounds high-profile cases. Employers must thoroughly understand potential legal and work-related problems that result from unchecked workplace harassment. Avoiding liability isn’t being PC: it’s the smart thing to do.
Stopping sexual harassment at work isn’t being “PC.” It’s being smart.
Preventing and Defending Sexual Harassment Charges
Please note that this website does not provide legal advice. If you’re looking out for your own company, contact my office as soon as possible. I will give you proven, actionable advice and counsel on your particular matter.
I provide this information for employers who need general and practical guidance that may help them avoid some of the legal nightmares caused by mishandling harassment complaints from your employees.
Although there is no shortage of information on the Internet for employees who want to file sexual harassment claims against their employees, advice for employers is pretty scarce. My site focuses on the legal defenses good employers use to defeat claims for which they should not be held responsible.
Keep in mind that in addition to the federal Civil Rights Act, the Arizona Civil Rights Act also prohibits businesses and from using employment practices that discriminate on the basis of sex. This includes sexual harassment.
I must emphasize that in my opinion, the best possible and practical defense is to prevent harassment from occurring. Train your supervisors and managers to prevent legitimate claims from ever being filed by making your workplace free of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. Arizona law doesn’t require this, but it does strongly recommend it.
Mishandling Sexual Harassment Complaints Will Cost Your Business
Employers who are well-prepared and well-educated on employment law will have explicit anti-sexual harassment policies in place that have been provided to each and every employee. Even better are those that train employees to understand these policies. They are protecting their businesses.
In addition, these employers are making their workplaces good places to work. They won’t be targeted on the internet or get poor scores on sites like Glassdoor.com. They won’t find themselves on the receiving end of a boycott, Dateline story, or other bad publicity.
Definition of Sexual Harassment Has Evolved
Keep in mind, too, that the definition of sexual harassment has evolved.
Although the traditional case involves a male supervisor harassing a female employee by a male supervisor, it now includes more situations that few people discussed in 1964, the year the federal Civil Rights Law was passed. Today’s employers must prevent all kinds of harassment including:
- A male subordinate by a female supervisor
- Same-sex harassment
- Harassment perpetrated by non-employees such as clients and customers
- Harassment based on a supervisor’s consensual relationship with another employee