During the latter part of 2017, sexual harassment claims exploded at a historic pace. Not since Anita Hill have we seen such a focus on harassment in the workplace. The residual effects from our collective heightened awareness of harassment, power, and gender equity will be felt for years to come. The spotlight has hit not only private industry and Hollywood, but a sharp focus has fallen upon our local, state and federal lawmakers.
Given the intensity of the debate, changes in the law are inevitable. For example, mandatory arbitration of harassment claims is under attack and may be eliminated through legislation, and the requirement of insurance for sexual harassment claims, whistleblower protections and prohibition on confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements are all on the table. Nine states are considering legislation to improve transparency of investigations of claims involving public officials.
The dominos continue to fall, and employers must recognize the need for self-examination and reflection. A primary tenet of the #MeToo movement is the removal of the barriers and stigma associated with the reporting of harassment claims. There will be more claims. In response, workplace policies and procedures must provide an opportunity for transparent and prompt reporting, disclosure and investigation of all forms of workplace harassment. Due diligence demands a careful audit of each employer’s human resources processes, and training on the nature and scope of harassment at work.
Clearview’s HR team has designed a Harassment Audit Package to assist with your company’s compliance and assessment obligations in today’s challenging environment.