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Workplace Harassment and Business Decision Discussion

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Workplace Harassment
Most employers know that developing, implementing and enforcing a formal workplace
harassment policy is a sound business decision. The existence of such a policy is also considered
by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when deciding whether an
employer is liable for harassment. The employer is presumed to be in the best position when they
can remove harassment from the workplace and will be responsible unless it can demonstrate
they did everything possible under the circumstances to prevent it or alleviate its effects. To meet
this burden, employers must create a sound and fair harassment policy, communicate it to
employees and provide harassment training. There is no one-size-fits-all harassment policy and
employers should develop one that will function within the workplace and is credible from the
employees' perspective. A policy that is too cumbersome or lacks credibility will be doomed to
failure. A policy should contain a clearly defined scope of conduct that amounts to harassment
along with the employer's commitment to ensuring a harassment-free workplace. Also, a
statement of duties and responsibilities of the employer, managers, supervisors and employees.
Many policies will specify harassment need not be "employee to employee" but can arise in
many ways, such as by customers or contractors. Furthermore, some policies will define the
workplace broadly, which seems consistent with the rulings in a number of cases (Fitzgibbon,
2007, para 4).
A clear complaint procedure for filing and addressing a complaint should be written in the
policy. As an example, the complainant will be required to submit a written complaint to a
specified individual within the company. An outline of how the complaint will be processed
after it is filed. Once a complaint is filed, it should be thoroughly investigated by interviewing

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the accused and anyone having knowledge of the matter. It is worth noting an employer would
likely have a responsibility to investigate a complaint even if an employee complains of
harassment and then asks the employer not to do anything (Fitzgibbon, 2007, para. 2). Once the
employer has knowledge, it cannot simply turn a blind eye. A statement that, to the extent
possible, the complaint will be dealt with in a confidential manner. This recognizes an
investigation will be conducted and details of the complaint will necessarily have to be disclosed
to ensure a balanced and fair investigation. An explanation of what will happen at the
conclusion of the investigation. This can include possible courses of action and how the
complainant and accused will be notified of the outcome.
The development of a harassment policy is the first step an employer can take to
demonstrate it has tried to remove harassment from the workplace. The next step is to ensure the
policy is communicated to all employees.
Workplace Disabilities
The American Disability Act (ADA) was enacted to prevent discrimination against people
with disabilities. The act was written to protect individuals with disabilities and was signed into
law in July of 1990 (Nelson, 2010, para. 1). In the past, individuals with disabilities were often
thought of as “broken” and should not be hired to work for our companies. However, in reality
disabled people can make very good employees. Most of these people are responsible and show
excellent work ethic. Under the act, private and public employers must accommodate
individuals with a disability without creating undue hardship to the company. ADA applies to all
employers with 15 or more employees. It is important for human resource personnel to
understand the ADA, as they are often the first contact for a disabled individual regarding the

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Workplace Harassment Most employers know that developing, implementing and enforcing a formal workplace harassment policy is a sound business decision. The existence of such a policy is also considered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) when deciding whether an employer is liable for harassment. The employer is presumed to be in the best position when they can remove harassment from the workplace and will be responsible unless it can demonstrate they did everything possible under the circumstances to prevent it or alleviate its effects. To meet this burden, employers must create a sound and fair harassment policy, communicate it to employees and provide harassment training. There is no one-size-fits-all harassment policy and employers should develop one that will function within the workplace and is credible from the employees' perspective. A policy that is too cumbersome or lacks credibility will be doomed to failure. A policy should contain a clearly defined scope of conduct that amounts to harassment along with the employer's commitment to ensuring a harassment-free workplace. Also, a statement of duties and responsibilities of the employer, managers, supervisors and employees. Many policies will specify harassment need not be "employee to employee" but can arise in many ways, such as by customers or contractors. Furthermore, some policies will define the workplace broadly, which seems consistent with the rulings in a number of cases (Fitzgibbon, 2007, ...
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