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Sure, judges expect employers to keep the work environment relatively free from harassment, at least when slurs and other bad behavior come from co-workers and supervisors. But a different, more lenient standard applies when the source is outside the company’s direct control.
Employers that create and implement clear, well-publicized policies for reporting sexual and other forms of harassment can defeat many co-worker harassment claims. The key is to come up with a specific process featuring more than one avenue through which employees can complain. Then let employees know it’s there for their use.