All employers have a legal responsibility to try to prevent sexual harassment at work. How an employer can do this will depend on the size of the company and the people who work there. A few small steps can often go a long way toward preventing sexual harassment.
It is usually a good idea for an employer to write a sexual harassment policy and a complaints procedure. Even small companies can benefit from having a system in place to deal with sexual harassment. Just by having a policy and complaints procedure, managers and employees should know that sexual harassment is unacceptable and will be taken seriously.
Sexual harassment policies usually include a purpose statement, a definition of sexual harassment, who the policy applies to, what the penalties are for breaking the policy, and how complaints should be made and dealt with. To be useful, the policy should be clearly posted in the workplace.
Sexual harassment policies should actually help to prevent sexual harassment. Otherwise, an employer is more likely to be found responsible for any sexual harassment that happens. A good way to have the policy work is to make sure the managers and supervisors understand it and are going to enforce it. At large companies, the employer may want to hold a special meeting to go over the policy. For smaller companies, an employer may want to discuss the policy at a regular meeting with the managers or supervisors. It will then be important to have the managers and supervisors talk to the staff about the policy.
Letting employees know that sexual harassment is unacceptable is a big part of preventing it.
Ontario Human Rights Commission: www.ohrc.on.ca
For legal assistance, consult a lawyer.
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