Just because you’re a woman, do you think your business is safe from sexual harassment claims? Think again. You never know when certain comments, actions or even pictures posted in a cubicle could make someone in the office uncomfortable enough to feel sexually harassed. And sexual harassment isn’t just men harassing women–it can be women harassing men or employees harassing others of the same sex. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although the law applies to employers with 15 or more employees, your small business could still be at risk for litigation if the person feels their work performance is being interfered with or the work environment is intimidating. To protect your workers and your business, you should have a clearly written policy to prevent sexual harassment. Harassment includes any implication made that a person must be involved in sexual acts in return for a job, promotion or raise; any sexually physical contact or language; and, of course, sexual relations between a supervisor and employee. Your policy should outline the procedures for filing complaints, the consequences of such an act and that the company will not tolerate retaliation of any kind against a person who complains of harassment or participates in the investigation of the complaint. The EEOC provides guidance on how to create a policy.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.