What Ignoring Workplace Harassment Can Mean For the Future of Your Business

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:

  • Morale

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.

  • Absenteeism

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).

  • Turnover

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.

  • Reputation

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.

Types of Employment Discrimination

Workplaces can be extremely tense environments. While these environments can be shaped into more positive atmospheres, tense work environments are usually the basis of employment litigation. Many people think employment discrimination is just discriminating based on the color of someone’s skin, but there are many types of employment discrimination that create hostile work environments, prevent growth of hardworking employees, and lead to extensive litigation.

Types of Employment Discrimination

Sadly, employment discrimination comes in many forms. The Texas Workforce Commission divides employment discrimination into nine different categories, including:

  • Age – Age discrimination can be against the very young or the very old. Regardless of someone’s age, they should be evaluated based on their skillset, not just a number.
  • Sex – Although women are commonly discriminated against because of their sex, anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment and/or discrimination.
  • Color – Workers are protected against discrimination based on the color of their skin during hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, or job training. Unfortunately, many employers violate this protection.
  • Race – While racial discrimination is similar to discrimination based on color, it provides additional protection against discrimination based on physical characteristics, cultural practices, and even medical conditions that predominately affect one race over others.
  • Nationality – Protection against nationality discrimination goes beyond where an individual was born; it also includes ancestry, culture, or linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group.
  • Religion – Religious discrimination goes beyond intolerance of someone’s personal beliefs. This type of discrimination can include refusing to allow workers to observe religious holidays or refusing to accept an employee’s religious dress.
  • Disability – Many people with disabilities struggle to obtain jobs and pursue careers. Even when people with disabilities obtain work, their employers must make reasonable accommodations for them.
  • Emergency Evacuation – In times of natural disasters, people may need to evacuate their homes to safe locations. If this occurs, these workers are protected from termination and other types of employment discrimination.
  • Retaliation – Any employee that makes a complaint regarding discrimination is also protected from retaliation by his or her employer.

Employment Discrimination Attorneys

At Feldman & Feldman, we have helped many individuals and companies with employment discrimination matters. We understand that sometimes the best course of action isn’t in the courtroom, and our experienced negotiators can help bring a successful resolution without going to court. And, when the need arises, we can also aggressively fight for clients in civil trials and defend our victories on appeal.

If you believe you have been discriminated against, or if you are a business facing discrimination litigation, contact us today. We can explain your legal options and protect your best interests.