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10 Ways to Prevent Harassment in The Workplace

Employers are responsible for providing employees with a safe workplace where people can focus on their job and be free of harassment. Some ways to accomplish this goal include:

Identify Harassing Conduct

To prevent harassment, employers must first explicitly define this type of behavior. The firm may list protected class characteristics such as race, sexual orientation, national origin, color, sex, and religion and state that harassment based on these characteristics is prohibited.

Provide Examples

The employer may provide written examples or show videos that detail different types of prohibited harassing conduct. These may include offensive jokes, displaying inappropriate messages or pictures, intimidating someone because of a protected characteristic or bullying someone because of a protected characteristic.

Communicate Policies

All employers should be given written workplace harassment policies. Ideally, all employees will sign a form indicating that they have received and understood these policies. Videos and other training materials may couple these written policies.

Monitor the Workplace

Employers may be able to reduce some incidents of workplace harassment by being on the floor with their employees. This gives them the opportunity to monitor the workplace and staff’s interactions with each other. Other forms of management, such as passively monitoring email and website traffic for certain words can also effectively stifle harassment.

Train Employees

All employees should be trained on anti-harassment policies. This includes top managers, supervisors, and employees. The training should be specifically targeted for the workplace and not a generic form of training. In June 2017, the EEOC reported its perception that generic anti-harassment, such as video programs, are not effective.  Employees should understand what harassment is and their right to a harassment-free work environment. Supervisors and managers should also be trained on how to respond effectively to complaints.

Establish a Reporting Procedure

All employees should be made aware of workplace harassment reporting procedures. This policy may require employees to notify their immediate supervisor or human resources if they feel that they are the victim of workplace harassment. This information should be stated in the workplace policy. Additionally, employers may want to display posters or other images so that employees will know how to respond to reports of harassment.

Investigate All Claims Promptly

An effective way to reduce the incidence of workplace harassment is to show that all complaints are taken seriously. A workplace investigation should quickly launch after a report of workplace harassment is received.

Don’t Take Adverse Action against the Victim

If other workers perceive that an employer is punishing an employee for reporting an incident of workplace harassment, they may be hesitant to report such claims in the future. Reassigning an employee or requiring him or her to take time off work while the complaint is being investigated may raise negative inferences about how the employer is handling the situation.

Address the Harassment

Employers should not ignore complaints regarding harassment because doing so can create an adverse employment culture and can subject the employer to liability. Disciplinary action may be warranted against the perpetrator.

Document Findings

Making a written report about the complaint and what steps were taken to resolve it can go a long way to showing an employee that the employer takes the complaint seriously. It can also provide potential protection against any subsequent lawsuit. 

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Cite this article: Lynch, N. (2017). 10 Ways to Prevent Harassment in the Workplace. Available: