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Workplace Abuse & Harassment Policy

REPOST ARTICLE SOURCE: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/workplace-abuse-harassment-policy-10958.html

shutterstock_106873226-copy-617x285Organizations establish workplace abuse and harassment policies to prevent inappropriate behavior and set guidelines and procedures to stop the behavior if it occurs. Harassment becomes illegal when it creates a work environment that a reasonable employee would not tolerate. Equal opportunity laws such as the Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination Act prohibit harassment, abuse and discrimination in the workplace. These law are the foundation of most workplace abuse and harassment policies.

Abuse and harassment policies are in place to educate employees about abusive and inappropriate behavior. These policies define what is considered workplace harassment, prohibited conduct and the specific types of behavior that violate the policies. They also outline the consequences for engaging in harassing and abusive activities as well as complaint procedures. Abuse and harassment policies apply to managers and supervisors, employees, co-workers and nonemployees.

Types of Harassment

Several types of behaviors exist that constitute abuse and harassment in the workplace. Employment policies prohibit harassment of a sexual nature such as unwanted sexual advances, physical conduct of a sexual nature and requests for sexual favors. Unwanted verbal, written or physical abuse that shows hostility based on a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation or disability status is also considered harassment. Abusive behavior creates a hostile work environment for the victim. Abusive behavior includes but is not limited to hostile physical conduct, intimidating aversions towards others and unwelcome comments that create an offensive work environment.

Employer Liability

Despite having abuse and harassment policies in place, employers may be liable for the inappropriate behaviors of workers. Employers are liable for harassment when a manager or supervisor’s inappropriate behavior results in an adverse employment action such as a decrease in wages or termination. Employers who fail to prevent or at least make an attempt to prevent harassing behavior are also liable. Employers who are made aware of harassing or abusive behavior and take the necessary steps to correct the situation are usually released from liability unless the victim can prove otherwise.

Prevention

One of the primary purposes of abuse and harassment policies is to prevent abuse and harassment from happening. Employers can help prevent harassment in the workplace through clearly communicating the consequences of unwelcome harassing conduct and providing training and education to managers and employees. Workers can help prevent harassment by taking advantage of educational opportunities provided by the employer.

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