Most businesses cannot function without their dedicated and committed workforce. The employees that make up a Pennsylvania business are its heart and soul and often the reason for its success. Unfortunately, though, whenever individuals are brought together in an employment context, there are opportunities for conflict to arise.
One way that conflict can manifest is through claims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a serious employment issue that can cost an employer time, money and other significant resources. Defending claims of sexual harassment is important and can benefit businesses in the long-term.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment can take different forms. It can be a proposed exchange, such as a promotion for a date between a supervisor and their employee. This is called quid pro quo harassment. It can also be the creation of an environment that is so impacted by sexual comments and culture that it becomes hostile. This is called hostile work environment. Both are serious problems for Pennsylvania employers.
Defending claims of sexual harassment
The best way to combat a claim of sexual harassment is to have policies and practices in place to stop it from ever occurring. For example, businesses can have antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies in their employee handbooks, and clear procedures for how alleged victims can report instances of harassment to their employers. Employer-focused employment attorneys can help organizations develop and write these policies and manuals.
However, once a claim of sexual harassment is made, an employer must be prepared to address it. They must follow their own internal processes and ensure that a proper investigation is made. They should remember, though, that evidence is a critical component in any employment-based legal claim, and as they explore if sexual harassment happened within their workforce, they should be ready to both use and examine evidence regarding the purported claim.
In some cases, an employer may find that an alleged victim consented to the alleged harassment they experienced. They may have even been a part of the culture or environment that they later used as the basis for their legal claims. While there are no clear answers in this arena and all cases of sexual harassment should be investigated on their own merits, defense options do exist for employers contending with difficult claims.
There is no reason for an employer to take on sexual harassment defense on their own. These claims are draining on personnel and difficult to manage within the confines of a business. Dedicated attorneys can help entities attempting to work through claims of discrimination and harassment.