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Employers need to tackle the issue of sexual harassment, particularly when it comes from the executive suite, say experts.
“This is an important issue that maybe hasn’t been addressed as much as it should have been,” said Eric B. Meyer, a partner with law firm Dilworth Paxson L.L.P. in Philadelphia. “Maybe we don’t do enough training in the C-suite.”
“I’m certainly talking to my clients about ‘when was the last time you did harassment training,’” said Jonathan T. Hyman, a partner with Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland.
Companies need to have a clear, well-defined policy and complaint and investigation procedures, said Amy Epstein Gluck, a partner with FisherBroyles L.L.P. in Washington.
“When all of these are enforced, you’re going to have much less of a possibility” of sexual harassment lawsuits, Ms. Gluck said.
It is important to “take rumors, allegations and observations seriously, and not tolerate behavior like this in the workplace,” said Martha J. Zackin, a partner with Bello/Welsh L.L.P. in Boston, referring to sexual harassment.
Treat everyone equally when it comes to addressing sexual harassment complaints, say experts.
Complaints should be addressed even if it is against someone in the C-suite, “someone with whom the buck is supposed to stop,” Mr. Meyer said.
It is important for organizations to have a “top-down culture of zero tolerance to keep the workplace free of any harassment,” said Ms. Gluck.
“There’s no substitute for having that culture of equality and no tolerance for any kind” of harassment, she said. “And it’s important not just women report it.” The onus should not be just on them to report these issues, she said.
Meanwhile, a report issued in December 2016 by Sterling, Massachusetts-based Betterley Risk Consultants Inc., which described an intensely competitive market for employment products liability insurance, said EPLI value-added services provided by insurers, “when done right,” offer employers access to tools “that can truly make a difference in the frequency and severity of claims — as well as the bad feelings that accompany employee/employer disputes.”
Other companies are likely to continue to feel the fallout from the problems of film producer Harvey Weinstein, who resigned from his position as co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. last month after numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault were revealed.