Segal, who is one of SHRM’s most popular speakers, is a partner in the Philadelphia office of law firm Duane Morris LLP. His remarks came at the SHRM Annual Conference and Exhibition, held recently in Las Vegas.
First of all, says Segal, although we tend to think about sexual harassment, there is a significant number of other categories of harassment to be concerned about (and to train managers about). For example, he says, here are examples of the bases on which employees might be protected:
* Protection depends on state or local laws.
Certainly the employer is liable under federal law, says Segal, but also managers and supervisors may be personally liable under state law. This is a good thing to remind them about, says Segal.
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What are the potential damages that can arise from harassment? Segal identifies eight types:
1. Liability. Remember says Segal, that under federal law there are limits to certain damages, but often not under state law. Consider the possibility of
2. Cost of litigation. Direct costs of litigation are substantial, but don’t forget that there is also lost time. That’s time you spend proving the negative, that is, that whatever was alleged either didn’t happen it wasn’t pervasive enough to be actionable.
3. Adverse career consequences. For those who engage in or tolerate harassment, there are almost certainly adverse consequences.
4. Productivity losses. There are bound to be direct productivity losses caused by participating in the defense of a claim, including depositions, fact-finding, and court appearances.
5. Employee relations. One effect of harassment is that you will be pushing away talent, both present and potential.
6. Public relations. It’s hard to estimate the negative consequences of poor publicity, but it’s not going to help the company.
7. Stock value. The adverse news may cause erosion of the company’s stock value.
8. Core values. Finally, says Segal, you will see an erosion of the company’s core values.
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For those who don’t know it when they see it, Segal gets specific by listing 25 examples of harassing behavior:
Segal also reminds employers that the prohibitions against sexual harassment apply beyond company walls:
In tomorrow’s Advisor, Segal’s Rules for supervisors and managers, plus an introduction to a unique checklist-based audit system that helps you catch problems before the feds do.
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