Workers in the Washington, D.C. metro area often have to rely on their managers and employers to keep order in the workplace. As a result, when something goes wrong and those in the management positions do not properly address it, employees can feel disappointed and possibly even fearful to continue working. In particular, when sexual or other harassment goes unaddressed, workers may feel threatened in the workplace.
Under law, employers have a duty to protect their employees from harassment on the job. In fact, there are numerous ways that they can cultivate a safe workplace. One of the biggest actions that employers could take is to seriously investigate any complaints of harassment. When complaints are brushed off, or it is not clear how to report harassment, a toxic environment could grow. Harassment can become so severe or pervasive that the worker may no longer feel safe in the workplace. In some cases, even a single incident of harassment may be sufficient to make the employer liable for the hostile work environment.
Other ways that employers could work to protect against harassment include the following:
- Having anti-retaliation policies to ensure workers do not face negative effects of reporting harassment and providing multiple channels to report harassment
- Encouraging employees to report incidents of harassment even if they are witnesses and not the direct victim
- Taking action as soon as possible after a harassment complaint is filed
- Reviewing and updating workplace policies regarding harassment, reporting harassment and similar elements to ensure that they stay current
These examples are only a few of the many ways that employers in the Washington, D.C. metro area could help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. If workers believe that they have been the victim of such harassment and that their employers did not handle complaints properly, they may want to determine their avenues for action. In some cases, speaking with an employment law attorney could help concerned workers understand their rights and options for addressing such matters when employers fail to take action.