Today, many companies have created zero-tolerance policies regarding sexual harassment. However, some still do not have any type of written policy in place. While they may believe they don’t need one because they are too small, they may want to consider this:
On the issue of having a written policy, the Supreme Court has said,”…proof that an employer had promulgated an anti-harassment policy with complaint procedure is not necessary in every instance as a matter of law” but failure to have one may make it far more difficult or impossible for an employer to raise a defense to the charges.
Also, if an employer is made aware of a hostile environment, and does not take appropriate action to correct the problem, then the employer may be held liable for the harassment.
While federal laws regarding sexual harassment tend to apply to companies with 15 or more employees. Businesses need to be aware that all states have some type of sexual harassment statutes on their books that are designed to extend the same rights found under federal law to employees of smaller businesses.
The principal difference in state laws tends to be found in the remedies and damages given in a successful sexual harassment claim. Some states allow an employee to collect workers’ compensation, others money damages for personal injuries, and others allow punitive damages.