What employers can learn from Hollywood

Allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood may be getting the attention of the mainstream media at the moment. However, the lessons learned in those cases could be helpful for Indiana employers. Ideally, when a worker reports an incident of sexual harassment, his or her employer will work to resolve the situation properly instead of trying to make it go away. Investigations should be prompt, thorough and properly documented regardless of the nature of the harassment.

Employers should work to take steps to make sure that the problem is dealt with correctly and efficiently. This may involve updating training manuals or harassment policies. It also is important to understand that not every allegation is true or being articulated accurately. Therefore, companies should take their time before suspending an employee based on an accusation that may or may not be proven to be true.

If an investigation determines that sexual harassment likely took place, the appropriate punishment may not be the same in all cases. For instance, some employees may be looking for money while others may simply want an apology. Taking the desires of the victim into account may help guide a company to the right conclusion. Regardless of the how the investigation plays out, demoting, firing or otherwise disciplining an accuser could be seen as illegal retaliation.

Workers that file sexual harassment claims are generally protected from retaliation simply by making the claim. Employers are encouraged to refrain from terminating, demoting or otherwise discriminating against workers that do so. If an employee is retaliated against, he or she may be entitled to compensation, reinstatement or both depending on the actions an employer took. An attorney may review a case and use witness, employee or employer statements to establish that illegal activity took place within an organization.

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