Tips to Prevent Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

 In Assess & Protect

Tips to Prevent Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

You might assume that a professional practice involving surgeons would not be at risk for a sexual harassment lawsuit.  Unfortunately, two surgical practices in Bellaire, Texas, were charged with allowing sexual harassment and retaliation to occur in their workplace.

I can’t make these things up!

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported this to the world-at-large on their website. A male nurse supervisor made unwanted sexual advances and told sexual jokes to female co-workers and subordinates.  Apparently, he didn’t think he was doing anything wrong even though the female workers told him it was unprofessional and offensive.

They complained about his treatment for many months.  During this time, the male supervisor assigned more difficult jobs to the women. He also evaluated their work more strictly.  One female nurse made a written complaint of sexual harassment. As a consequence, her manager fired her the next day.

Eventually, the female workers filed harassment and whistle blower charges against the owners.  The courts conducted an extensive, time-consuming and expensive investigation. They determined that the business was guilty of the charges.

The owners of the practice paid a $290,000 settlement and all the legal fees. In addition, based on court orders, they hired a human resources specialist and implemented a training program to prevent future sexual harassment or retaliation acts. I certainly hope they also fired the male nurse supervisor.

Here are 10 tips to prevent sexual harassment lawsuits business owners should consider acting upon:

  1. Implement a written policy prohibiting harassment or discrimination of any kind, including sexual harassment.
  2. Explain what is expected of all employees, including supervisors and managers.
  3. Outline the procedure for reporting a complaint. In addition, address the investigation process and potential resolutions and consequences.
  4. Clearly state that it is illegal to retaliate against anyone who files a complaint.
  5. It doesn’t matter if the complaint is reported to someone in the company or to authorities outside the company.
  6. Employees, customers and suppliers are all protected against harassment and retaliation.
  7. Implement an education program for all employees so they can recognize harassment and know how to report it.
  8. Train managers on how they must address such complaints and report them up the chain of command or resolve them.
  9. Monitor the policy to make sure everyone is adhering to it.
  10. Identify any trends occurring in specific departments or with specific employees. And be prepared to address each report appropriately.

Teach your managers how to prevent sexual harassment issues.


Just having a written policy isn’t enough!

Approach this issue proactively!  Create a safe workplace that does not allow for sexual harassment or retaliation against those who report it.

Take these tips to prevent sexual harassment lawsuits as a starting point in your organization. Need more guidance in this area? Join our HR Coaching Inner Circle so we can help.

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