The current Federal law protects employees from harassment, sexual or otherwise. This law applies to companies with 15 or more employees. Small businesses with less than 15 employees cannot afford to ignore harassment either. It’s costly to the budget and morale.
The #MeToo movement and recent scandals focus a spotlight on harassment, and it’s implications for everyone involved including the business where it occurs. A small business is just as likely to experience a harassment issue as a big one due to the more familiar working environment.
A harassment issue is rougher on a small business which may lack the resources and often an HR department to deal with the problem. The best solution stays ahead of the curve rather than behind it. Have a written harassment policy, which every employee reads and understands via training.
Policies need to define in detail “quid pro quo” or “this for that” behavior such as a supervisor asking for sexual favors from an employee in return for promotion and hostile work environment such as an employee making suggestive comments to another employee. A hostile work environment also includes off-color jokes or unwanted touching.
The policy must include reporting instructions. In a small company without an HR department, the employee experiencing harassment needs to share the details with a trustworthy leader. That may be another manager or the CEO.
A harassment lawsuit means a business takes a reputation and financial hit. Nipping any harassment issue in the bud is good for your employees and your business.