For some, a sexual harassment lawsuit is a chance to make a quick payday regardless of the facts in the matter. For New York business owners and top executives that are accused of harassment, it can do damage to their reputations as well as their bank accounts even if the allegation is false. The first step in defending against such a claim is to meet with an attorney who has experience handling such cases.
From July 2016 to June 2017, Microsoft's chief people officer said that the company received 83 complaints of sexual harassment in the United States. Furthermore, she claimed that nearly half were found to be partially or fully supported following an investigation. The memo was believed to be an effort to show people in New York and elsewhere that the company takes sexual harassment seriously.
It isn't uncommon for employees from the same company to begin romantic relationships with each other. However, employers in New York and around the country are taking steps to ensure that the business is protected if the relationship goes bad. For instance, some companies are asking employees to sign documents saying that each party consented to the relationship. Others have taken more general steps to let employees know what is expected of them if a relationship doesn't work out.
Companies in New York can take steps to protect themselves against harassment suits by strengthening their anti-harassment policies in a number of ways. For example, a policy should clearly state that reports can be made not just by people who are harassed but by those who witness harassment as well. Furthermore, employees should understand that work harassment is not always sexual in nature but could also be based on factors such as a person's religion, race and national origin.
Some New York employers might have an issue with sexual harassment in the workplace and not realize it. According to the results of one survey conducted by CareerBuilder, almost three-fourths of people who are sexually harassed at work never report it.
Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a major issue with film producer Harvey Weinstein facing allegations and a "me too" hashtag on social media in which people recount their own experiences with being sexually harassed. Among employees, there could be disagreement about what constitutes sexual harassment, and this could lead to problems for New York employers who are trying to develop a sexual harassment policy. Reuters/Ipsos conducted an online opinion poll from Dec. 13 to 18 and found that most people agreed that kissing and groping without consent was sexual harassment but were divided on other acts.
New Yorkers are likely aware of the numerous powerful men who have recently been accused of sexual harassment. According to reports, Andrew Kreisberg, the executive producer of such shows as "The Flash" and "Arrow," has been terminated from his job by Warner Bros. Entertainment after the company's investigation into sexual harassment allegations that were lodged against him.
How New York employers and others throughout the country handle sexual assault allegations could play a role in how the case proceeds. Companies that take such complaints seriously may limit their liability as well as the potential for backlash against the brand. The first step that a company may want to take is to hire an attorney who understands the legal issues that may arise because of such a claim.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees in New York and around the country from employers' retaliatory acts after reporting violations, like sexual harassment. An employer, however, must intend that actions punish someone for lawful conduct before suffering liability for retaliation.
Sexual harassment lawsuits may cost New York employers a lot of money. They may also act to tarnish a company's brand. Therefore, it is critical for employers to take steps to prevent such lawsuits from occurring. In some cases, it may be as easy as updating corporate policy related to sexual harassment in the workplace. All companies should have policies that are clear and that are in writing.