Sexual harassment - avoid the trauma, avoid the cost

The recent record $37 million sexual harassment claim has left organisations and managers asking whether such claims are preventable and if so, how?  The answer is YES!  By ensuring your organisation takes the correct steps, claims may be able to be prevented in the first instance and if a claim is lodged, minimised.

Prevention is better than a cure.  The most important step in minimising risk is to create a workplace which is free from sexual harassment.  There are a number of specific steps that can be taken by an organisation to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.  These include:

  • Proper implementation of policies and procedures
  • Regular organisational staff training
  • Cultural Change and promotion of appropriate standards
  • Appointment and Training of Contact Officers

Whilst an employer may put in place a number of measures to avoid a complaint, one may still be lodged.  If this occurs then it is important to ensure that an organisation has correct processes in place to deal with the complaint.  These processes include:

  • Correctly following company procedures when dealing with complaints
  • Ensure all employees are familiar with policies and procedures
  • Encourage the reporting of behaviour that breaches policies
  • Guarantee protection from any victimisation or reprisals
  • Any inappropriate behaviour is not condoned
  • Ensure that any person(s) found guilty of sexual harassment is dealt with appropriately and according to company policy

A company can be found vicariously liable for the behaviours of its employees.  Therefore if an employee sexually harasses another person, the company may be found liable, even if it had no knowledge of the behaviour.  By implementing, following and updating company policies and procedures and ensuring your company is serious about preventing sexual harassment, not just paying lip service to requirements, it is possible to severe or minimise the vicarious liability of the organisation. 

Business SA can assist your organisation implement a sexual harassment plan including policies, procedures, staff training and contact officer training.  For more information, please contact 08 8300 0103.

Adelaide Office

Level 1
136 Greenhill Road Unley
South Australia 5061

P 08 8300 0000
F 08 8300 0001



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