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Sexual harassment tops employers’ legal concerns

The #MeToo movement has turned sexual harassment into the top labor-related regulatory issue for all employers, triggering action from three out of four companies, according to a new survey on workforce concerns.

About two-thirds (66%) of employers rank the issue among their top two employment-related legal worries, even without a change in the pertinent laws and regulations, the canvass found.

What has changed, concluded surveyor Littler Mendelson, one of the nation’s largest labor-focused legal firms, are employee expectations and the social climate.

“No company can afford to ignore this issue, and while many already have a good foundation, the past several months have shown the importance of re-evaluating and reinforcing policies and procedures,” Helene Wasserman, co-chair of Littler's litigation and trials practice group, said in a statement.

The nation’s employers have responded, the law firm discovered in its survey of 1,100 companies. More than half (55%) have added training for supervisors and staff, and one in three (38%) have updated their policies or handbooks.

But, Littler noted, only 13% of employers have made it easier for alleged instances of sexual harassment to be reported and investigated, and 24% have sat idle as headlines raise awareness of the matter.

“In addition to providing training and updating policies, it’s critical that companies have effective complaint procedures in place and that employees feel confident that reports of potential misconduct will be taken seriously and acted upon,” Wasserman said.

Photo courtesy of iStock

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