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Businesses need a zero tolerance sexual harassment policy

The days and weeks following a sexual harassment accusation are vital. Businesses need to act in an appropriate manner, not only to stop the sexual harassment that's happening, but also to prevent other instances from happening in the future.

To completely eradicate sexual harassment from the workplace, though, businesses need to adopt a zero tolerance policy. According to a human resources professor from Villanova University, zero tolerance is the only way to end a long-term culture of sexual harassment in a work environment.

Whenever ambiguity exists regarding what constitutes sexual harassment, it can serve to promote negative behavior. Rather, what's needed are clear definitions of sexual harassment and clear channels through which victims of sexual harassment can report instances. Finally, businesses must swiftly and consistently act when they receive reports of sexual harassment from abused employees.

For all of this to work, however, faith must be instilled in employees, so they know that when they complain, their complaints will be heard and acted upon. Otherwise, if employees don't feel they will be heard, they will not make the complaints. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, only one out of four cases of sexual harassment are ever reported. The key is to convince victims and witnesses of sexual harassment to come forward and assert their legal rights.

When more Florida employees report instances of workplace sexual harassment, more harassers will stop their unconscionable behavior. Indeed, when a sexual harassment victim steps forward by making a legal claim, he or she is not the only one being helped. The action of filing a sexual harassment complaint will assist countless other victims by gradually changing the perception of what society considers acceptable behavior.

Source: Christian Science Monitor, "O'Reilly and changing a culture of sexual harassment," Harry Bruinius, April 21, 2017

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