4 steps to make your office safer for everyone 

Workplace harassment and discrimination is something every business usually confronts at some point and must eliminate. While cases involving large corporations often make the news, small businesses are not immune to this problem. We are all working to create environments where every employee feels safe and valued. A toxic work environment can not only land you in legal trouble, but it can also lead to low employee morale and high turnover.

You can take steps to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment, however. Here we offer four steps your business can take to steer clear of trouble.

1. Establish clear policies

You should develop written policies that outline what constitutes workplace harassment and discrimination. You can describe different forms of harassment with real-life examples that explain what you mean. You also need to have policies and procedures outlining how incidents should be reported and handled. 

A policy should answer questions such as:

  • How can an employee report an issue?
  • Who should be the first point of contact?
  • What’s the chain of command for handling complaints?
  • What happens after a complaint has been made?
  • How will investigations be conducted?
  • Who will conduct investigations?
  • Will you keep the matter “in-house” or use an independent investigator?

You want to include these policies in the employee handbooks which should be given to every current employee and new hire. This training should also be a part of your onboarding procedures for new hires.

2. Consult legal council

It’s a very good idea to get professional legal advice when writing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. You need to understand federal, state, and local employment laws regarding what constitutes harassment and discrimination. 

You can also contact your local or district office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to get advice and guidance when it comes to workplace harassment and discrimination. Pay attention to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which established laws prohibiting discriminatory employment practices.

3. Provide employee training

Conduct ongoing employee training to ensure everyone knows and understands the standards and consequences once you have a written policy. Find ways to make it clear that harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated, whether that’s through written materials, seminars, online workshops, or educational videos.

Training sessions should include talking to employees about the company’s procedures for reporting, investigating, and resolving complaints. Announce the schedule for training sessions and make it clear that attendance is mandatory. If you have employees who work different shifts or outside normal business hours, it is up to you to accommodate those schedules to ensure that every staff member receives the training.

By the way, attendance should also be mandatory for senior management, though you may want to prepare specific training for them.

4. Take action right away

If a complaint is filed, it is up to you to take it seriously and act accordingly. You cannot simply avoid, dismiss, or minimize a claim. Every claim should be investigated following your company’s stated policies and procedures. Failure to do so could result in an employee bringing a lawsuit against your business. 

Protect your business from claims

Even the most comprehensive anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policies may not prevent all incidents. You cannot control the actions of every person in an office. These days, even an offhand joke or social media post could result in a serious legal battle and damage to your reputation. 

That’s why you should consider Employee Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). This type of policy can protect you and your business if a current or ex-employee makes a legal claim against you. In addition to legal expenses, EPLI can also help pay for settlements or judgments.

Other types of commercial insurance Avante Insurance provides include: 

  • Professional liability 
  • Property insurance
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Product liability 
  • Commercial auto
  • Business interruption
  • Cyber liability 

Avante Insurance can help you secure the right business insurance to protect your life’s work. Contact us to talk about EPLI and request a quote. We will ensure you have the right coverage to protect the enterprise you’ve worked so hard to grow

This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state.