Do you have a Harvey Weinstein-like Sex Harasser at your company?
Many of us have read about the appalling sex harassment that Harvey Weinstein allegedly committed while he ran his powerful Hollywood company. Could there be such a sexual harasser at your company? What should you do about it if the harasser is a co-worker? Your boss? Your employee?
If He’s Your Co-Worker or Boss
Every company must have a way for employees to report sexual harassment. If the harasser is your boss or a co-worker, you’re entitled to have a way to report the harassment, and the company has to do something about it. If you’re the harassed party, keeping records is absolutely crucial. Document the incidents of harassment. Document when you reported them and to whom. Document the witnesses and other evidence there might be, such as emails, texts or voicemail messages. Your journal will help you if your company won’t! We advise many victims of sexual harassment, and have obtained large settlements, even against powerful Fortune 50 companies.
If He’s Your Subordinate or Employee
If your employee is accused of sexual harassment, you need to make a legitimate, good-faith investigation into what has happened. It should be conducted by a neutral party. If you had no good-faith reason to know what was going on, then your company usually won’t be liable for the employee’s wrongdoing—provided you take immediate, appropriate action to fix the problem once learning about it. Be careful! Our Arizona employment law lawyers have advised many employers on investigating such accusations and taking appropriate action against sex harassers.
What about Nondisclosure Agreements?
Most employers require employees to sign a nondisclosure agreement when they settle a sexual harassment case. Some people now are claiming that this makes continued harassment more likely—and it does seem like that’s exactly what happened with Harvey Weinstein, who apparently had the money to buy off his accusers and compel their silence. Even some lawmakers are concerned about the issue, and have recently introduced legislation in New York that would void any contract that seeks to silence workers about harassment or discrimination. Of course, that’s not a law yet—and it seems a law like that would encourage companies to fight harder if they knew they couldn’t get a confidentiality agreement as part of a settlement. That would lead to longer, more expensive litigation for those who suffer sexual harassment. These issues are complicated, and it pays to make sure you get careful legal help if you find yourself involved in sexual harassment issues in the workplaces—no matter your role.
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