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How to Deal with Sexual Harassment Claims as a Supervisor

How to Deal with Sexual Harassment Claims as a Supervisor

As a supervisor in a professional institution, the idea of sexual harassment can be a scary one. Even if it isn’t an ongoing issue at your workplace, it’s easy to feel uncertain about your ability to respond to potential sexual harassment claims. After all, an improperly handled sexual harassment case can result in some expensive legal penalties. It can also damage your employees’ mental health and overall morale. The question at the front of your mind might be something like: what is the first step a supervisor should take in response to a harassment complaint? But like most other workplace hazards, the best time to deal with sexual harassment is before it happens. By taking the right precautions with your business and employees, you can prepare yourself to tackle harassment cases confidently and capably.

The Harassment Policy

One of your most important roles as a supervisor is helping to implement your company’s harassment policy. This is usually a document explaining how the company should deal with harassment in the workplace. A strong policy begins with the company’s definition of harassment. It lists clear penalties for harassment and outlines procedures for reporting and investigating harassment claims. A good policy also ensures that all claims of sexual harassment will be taken seriously, and that employees who file those claims will be safe from retaliation. If your company has a thorough sexual harassment policy, commit to enforcing it fairly. If not, consider approaching your employer with ideas for drafting one.

Sexual Harassment Training

Another major way you can prepare yourself to handle sexual harassment claims is by taking and providing adequate training. Employees, supervisors, and managers alike should be regularly instructed on how to act professionally and respectfully towards each other. They should also be encouraged to look out for instances of inappropriate conduct and report them if they become a concern. Do your best to reflect these lessons in how you act around the workplace. Your professional conduct can help reassure and inspire your employees to take their behavior more seriously.

Sexual harassment will likely always be an uncomfortable topic to consider. But maintaining a well-developed harassment policy and cultivating a healthy workplace culture can protect you and your co-workers from its very worst consequences. By giving sexual harassment the attention it requires—by deciding today how you will handle the issues of tomorrow—you won’t ever have to worry about what to do in response to a harassment complaint.