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Preventing sexual harassment: What businesses need to do

Florida workplaces can be breeding grounds for sexual harassment. One bad egg and an entire culture of workplace sexual harassment can arrise before an employer even realizes it's there. As such, businesses need to be diligent in their efforts to prevent their employees from being victimized by this kind of situation.

Here are steps that companies can take to minimize the likelihood of sexual harassment becoming a problem:

-- Draft a concise and clear sexual harassment policy. This policy should define what sexual harassment is, state that sexual harassment will not be permitted or tolerated, describe the consequences, and describe the way complaints will be investigated.

-- Train employees on how to recognize, prevent and avoid committing sexual harassment. Hold a training session annually for all employees. Be sure to zero in on things that regularly happen, which employees might not immediately recognize as sexual harassment.

-- Diligently monitor the sexual harassment situation. Talk to employees regarding their working environment and encourage them to be open about any harassment issues they are encountering.

-- Stress to employees that any issues they bring up about harassment will be confidential, and their careers and jobs will never be affected.

-- Follow up and investigate all complaints. If a claim is found to be true, or even slightly accurate, take immediate and appropriate action to resolve the matter.

Florida employers have a duty to maintain a harassment-free workplace. Employers who fail to do so can be held liable for financial damages in court. Those damages might include lost income, lost opportunity costs, emotional pain and suffering, legal fees, and more.

Source: FindLaw, "Preventing Sexual Harassment," accessed Feb. 17, 2017

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