Empowering co-workers to report inappropriate behavior, multiple access points for reporting harassment, prompt investigations and swift disciplinary action when warranted, along with strong support from top, are some of the measures employers can take to prevent workplace harassment, a panel of experts told the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace at a public meeting held Oct. 22 in Los Angeles.
Members of the task force include representatives from the worlds of academia, law, labor, and business. The meeting was designed to explore innovative steps to prevent workplace harassment.
Panelists stressed the importance of leadership from the top. Patti Perez, a shareholder at the Ogletree Deakins law firm, described employers with
“creative programs that send a loud message to employees about the company’s dedication to the prevention of inappropriate behavior at work. Companies who are truly committed to addressing these issues implement programs, not just policies,” she said.
Sophia Cheng, of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles, agreed with the importance ofbuy-in. She explained that in restaurants, “Even when managers don’t directly harass employees, it’s a management responsibility to foster a safe work environment, including clear anti-harassment policies. Management sets the tone.”
Heidi-Jane Olguin, CEO of Progressive Management Resources, underscored the factors that make training productive: training all employees every 12 to 18 months, using live trainers, tailoring the training to the workplace and providing separate training sessions for employees, managers and HR professionals.