News, Info and More…
News, Info and More…
No business is invulnerable where sexual harassment in the workplace is concerned. Does your small business need a sexual harassment complaint procedure?
No business is invulnerable where sexual harassment in the workplace is concerned. Federal, as well as state and local laws prohibit workplace harassment. However, some laws apply to employers who meet certain employee thresholds.
However, even if small employers aren’t subject to anti-harassment rules, should they follow suit?
The short answer is yes. Just because your tight-knit business’s employee headcount doesn’t meet the threshold of anti-discrimination laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (15 employees) or applicable state and local laws, it doesn’t mean that you and your business can’t be sued — or that harmful and inappropriate behavior can’t occur.
“It is still a best practice for a small business owner to have an effective anti-harassment policy in place,” advises Kristin LaRosa, senior counsel at ADP. “A company’s demonstrated commitment to an organization free from harassment or discrimination is the first step toward eliminating workplace harassment.”
Create a Policy
To be effective, your anti-harassment policy should expressly state your zero-tolerance stance toward harassment. Consider whether your policy will extend to non-employees such as third parties, clients, vendors, or contractors. Some state or local anti-harassment rules may even extend to such individuals
“The policy should provide clear examples of both physical and nonphysical prohibited conduct,” according to LaRosa. Prohibited physical conduct could be quid-pro-quo threats along the lines of, “If you don’t let me X, I’ll sabotage your work.” Nonphysical harassment creates a hostile work environment, for example telling crude sexual jokes to an unwilling listener or sending an offensive email or text message.
In your policy, clearly state that protections extend to not only sex-based harassment but to any other federal, state or locally recognized characteristic, including race, color, national origin, religion, disability and age. Also include a statement making it clear that if the policy is not followed, action up to and including termination may occur. As LaRosa warns, “Companies should emphasize [that] all complaints will be treated seriously and receive a prompt response and appropriate remedial action.”
Lastly, state that no one who raises a complaint or participates in investigations will experience retaliation. Your policy’s effectiveness will be severely limited if employees are afraid of using it.
Create a Procedure
Your sexual harassment complaint procedure, which should be included in the policy, starts with a complaint by either a victim of or a witness to harassment. Your complaint, investigation and resolution procedure should allow “employees to immediately report complaints and provide multiple avenues to raise the complaint,” advises LaRosa.
The procedure should:
Denote who receives complaints — for example human resources, supervisors, the C-suite or board members
Designate who conducts investigations, whether a well-trained internal investigator (traditionally HR conducts) or an independent outside investigator (especially when the accused is high-level), as long as they’re unbiased and unconnected with either party
Determine exactly what happened
Document every step from complaint to investigation to interviews and determination in a fact-centric way
The investigator should have “clear guidelines on how to assess the credibility of the complainant, alleged harasser and any witnesses,” notes LaRosa. “Once the investigator makes their recommendations, take any appropriate corrective action and advise the complainant that appropriate action was taken. Continue to follow up with the complainant to ensure that no further harassment has occurred.”
Once your policy and procedure are written, implement them with training. It’s not simply best practice — in states like Maine, California, Connecticut and New York, it’s mandated. Ensure that leaders are trained not only on policy and procedure but also on how to prevent, identify and handle complaints. Have everyone sign off on the policy, indicating that they’ve read and understood it, and make that acknowledgment part of their files.
“Business owners cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand,” warns LaRosa. “They must constantly audit effectiveness of their policies and procedures to ensure all employees, including those in the C-suite and ‘star’ performers, are held accountable for their conduct.” Make modeling expected behavior and monitoring situations part of leaders’ jobs.
When it comes to expanding into new locations, the first question is always, where? For the CHRO, the question may actually be who? While the rest of the C-suite may be scoping locations based on customer base or tax regulations, HR will be working to find the best talent in the best location for the best money. To get this done, you will want to consider big data for cost-effective expansion.
Choosing a Location Based on Revenue
The decisions surrounding new locations is never simple. For example, retailers and food franchises not only need to know where potential customers are, but where customers will be over the 10- to 25-year lifetime of the investment in new locations. But for HR, expanding to a new location goes beyond finding where the customers are.
Your organization may be using big data to identify the main components of existing effective locations and why they succeed, as well as locations most likely to pull in customers. For example, John Crouse, director of Wendy’s real estate services, told Fast Company that the restaurant chain came up with its own “urbanicity scheme,” using “GIS platforms to help break down which blocks in an urban downtown will have high foot traffic and similar factors.” Starbucks, on the other hand, uses data pertaining to “nearby retail clusters, public transportation stops, and neighborhood demographics” from their “in-house mapping and business intelligence platform” when evaluating new locations in China.
Once your location and potential customers are identified, how do you find the talent to fill positions in your new location? According to LinkedIn, you might want to start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to analyze metrics like unemployment rates in the area, to get a better sense of how many people may answer your ad and what kind of compensation they’ll be looking for.
Choosing a Location Based on Talent
If your organization is choosing a new location based on available talent, you’ll need to decide what elements are the most vital to your organization’s new office. The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) suggests that CHROs take the same approach to analyzing labor markets in new potential locations with fact-based analysis of talent demographics seeking answers to questions like: Which cities have the talent with the right skills? What are the hiring patterns in the cities of interest? What universities are or could be the most logical sources of future talent? How can the firm get the optimal talent at the best price? Where are competitors, partners and suppliers establishing talent skill hubs?
Those determinants need to be expressed in a number value. For instance, instead of stating that an important segment is a “strong labor market,” it should be expressed as the number of universities and colleges within 50 miles of the potential location.
Collect and Analyze the Data
The next step in using big data for cost-effective expansion involves collecting the data for each factor in each location. What are the tax rates in each location? What are average commute times? How many competitors are located near those locations? How many universities within 50 miles? When it comes to compensation and benefits, what is appropriate given local market averages?
It’s at this point that patterns and correlations in the data will become evident, and it can then be compared to benchmarking data from both GIS and human capital management (HCM) systems so that HR teams can analyze data in comparison to industry best practices.
Use Insights to Find New Locations That Match
Considering the large investments required to expand into new locations, organizations should make the most informed decisions possible. By correlating existing data and benchmarking data, CHROs gain insight that informs the best expansion decision possible for their organizations.
Eliminating drugs at work can provide a safer and more productive place of business — but there are legal considerations.
In a recent analysis of approximately 11 million employer drug test results, Quest Diagnostics reported an increase in drug use in the workplace for the fifth consecutive year. The analysis, which showed upticks in amphetamines, heroin and marijuana, found that almost one in 11 job applicants failed an oral fluid drug test.
Bloomberg, too, reports that drug abuse in the workplace is “a growing challenge for American business.” According to Bloomberg, employees who test positive for opioids may slow down productivity, increase health care costs and endanger themselves and other employees.
As an employer, what can you legally do to limit drug use in the workplace? Here are factors to consider for curbing or eliminating drugs at work in order to provide a safer and more productive place of business.
Prohibiting Drug Use
Employers may prohibit drug use in the workplace and can generally test for illegal drugs, too. That said, according to The Balance, employers must meet the requirements of applicable state laws for such drug tests, like cause for suspicion.
Employers may not discriminate against employees who have previously struggled with drug addiction, are no longer using drugs or are in a rehabilitation program. In fact, reasonable accommodation must be provided to individuals undergoing rehabilitation efforts or who have been in rehabilitation, for example allowing time off for medical care.
Further, individuals with alcohol use disorders may be considered employees with disabilities pursuant to the ADA, and employers must act accordingly. On the other hand, such protections do not apply to drug addicts if they are A) not in recovery and B) are addicted to an illicit substance.
Terminating Employees Using Illegal Drugs
Employers may terminate an employee’s tenure if their use of drugs in the workplace affects their ability to do their job. This can mean, as Bloomberg points out, that employers find themselves having to terminate employees who have previously had no problems with job performance. Consult an employment attorney before taking action, as this is a complex area.
In some cases, you may not want to terminate the employee, at least not immediately. Work with your insurance company to find resources available to the employee. If it is compliant with the law in your area, you may consider giving the employee an ultimatum: get treatment or have your employment terminated.
Employers can take all or a combination of the steps above to protect themselves and their businesses. But these steps and guidelines need to be included in the organization’s policies and procedures. A written policy can be a first step toward ensuring a healthy workplace