Workplace harassment has remained top of mind for many businesses since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements brought several major issues to light in recent years. Unfortunately, however, many companies still struggle to tackle workplace harassment head-on, as they don’t think it could happen to them or happen in their office. In fact, more than 7,500 harassment claims were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2018 alone, a 14% increase from 2017. Failing to recognize workplace harassment when it occurs can have a negative effect on how a business is viewed and the future well being of its employees.
The Impact of Not Addressing Workplace Harassment
Businesses can face irreparable damage if harassment claims are not addressed. According to the EEOC, the number of harassment lawsuits rose by 50% in 2018 alone. Even just one harassment claim can wreak financial havoc on your business. Allegations of harassment affect the well-being of employees in the following ways:
Workplace harassment can have a significant emotional impact on victims. Any unaddressed issues can prolong the negativity for those affected. Often, when unaddressed, harassment will get worse, especially the victim feels afraid or uncomfortable reporting offenses, or if he or she decides not to report it out of fear. The lingering negativity can lead to a decline in morale and productivity.
The emotional impact that results from workplace harassment can leave a victim feeling unable to come into work. Being traumatized by the harassment and trying to avoid facing a harasser can leave victims feeling trapped and unwilling to return to the office. This can put other employees in a problematic situation as well, as the uncompleted work will need to be covered by someone else. Results like these can sometimes cause other employees to have negative feelings towards the victim for not coming into work and can leave other employees feeling disengaged with management for not addressing the absences (or even the harassment).
With morale in decline and absenteeism looming over a business, employee turnover can often be inevitable. Once other employees recognize management failed to address harassment claims (especially in the event they are aware it is happening), it will only be a matter of time before your work staff chooses to leave the business altogether.
Prospective employees will avoid working for a business known for having a harassment problem. If a lawsuit is filed against the business, things can become incredibly difficult as the issue then becomes public knowledge. With public allegations of wrongdoing, outsiders become aware that not only has harassment occurred at the business, but also that management did nothing about it.
When a business’ reputation is tainted due to workplace harassment and further tarnished by the unwillingness of management to properly address the issues at hand, potential and even existing customers may simply go elsewhere. The costs of defending a business against a harassment lawsuit can force smaller companies to close their doors for good, making the financial risks and impact significant.
Houston Employment Attorneys
At Feldman & Feldman, our attorneys work with public and private businesses of all sizes to help prevent litigation down the road, and we also represent both employers and employees when legal disputes do arise. Our experienced employment lawyers frequently train managers and supervisors on the nuances and regulations of employment law and policy. If your business needs the guidance of an experienced employment attorney, contact Feldman & Feldman today.