Workplace & Sexual Harassment Investigation & Avoidance

You almost can’t turn on the TV these days without hearing about another instance of sexual harassment in the workplace.  Does that mean it’s a new concern? Hardly. It’s been a problem for decades, but many have only recently become aware of what a prevalent issue it is for  large percentage of women. In fact, recent reports state that at least one in three women in the US have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace—and we know that many, if not most, harassment issues go unreported.  

This isn’t an issue only among women; men can, and are, sexually harassed as well.  Experts speculate that this is far more common than we think, but that men are less likely to report the issues to company management.  

Companies are so focused on sexual harassment avoidance that they are often missing other concerns that can open the door of costly legal liability and loss of productivity, employee focus and churn.  

Company owners with 15 or more employees need to thoroughly understand all the other types of harassment, hostile work environment issues and employment discrimination, other than sexual harassment, for which they may be legally liable. All of this falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • Age discrimination
  • Disability discrimination
  • Gender discrimination
  • National origin discrimination
  • Pregnancy discrimination
  • Race discrimination
  • Religious discrimination
  • Sexual orientation discrimination (in some states, although the second circuit said in February 2018 ruling that it’s protected under Title VII. In any case, it seems that this is issue where the legal landscape is rapidly changing.)
  • Transgender discrimination (protected in all 50 states based on sixth circuit court ruling recently brought by the EEOC, and generally unknown by most, even the LGBT community.)
  • Hostile work environment
  • Reverse discrimination
  • Pay discrimination (This is another area where the legal landscape appears to be changing. Complaints of inequity in pay may actually fall within protections under Title VII; Sixth Court, 2018


And just because you have less than 15 employees in your business, don’t think you can treat them any way you wish because you don’t think they’re protected by Title VII. In fact, there’s the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (yes, I said 1866), section 1981, that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. It’s recently been expanded to include Asian, Hispanic and other ethnicities, regardless of the number of employees. There are other federal and state laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that open employers of less than 15 to be potentially liable for tremendous legal and financial risks, IF you’re unaware of them.

Something else about which many company owners are totally unaware is the fact that they may be liable for third-party sexual harassment committed by customers, clients, vendors and others who are not company employees. Equally, as a business owner, you may be liable for unwelcome and inappropriate actions by your employees in the field and while on the company clock.

Don’t fall into the trap of providing a canned sexual harassment training for your staff and believe that you and your organization is safe from legal exposure. Don’t fall for tricks some consultants are selling that will help you recognize the propensity for discrimination charges.

The folks at Predictive Assessments are not attorneys, nor do we attempt to portray ourselves as such. Predictive Assessments is, however, a partner that can help you mitigate your legal exposure with comprehensive, actionable training for management, supervisors and other employees, ensuring that everyone knows how to recognize discrimination in the workplace, and most importantly, how to deal with it quickly and effectively to mitigate risk.

And in case this happens to you, realize that the speed in which you bring in an independent, third party investigator to look into allegations of harassment is important to your defense and the potential liabilities you carry. Kathryn and her crew have conducted many third-party investigations for both attorneys and companies facing discrimination charges and can work with you to ensure that you have a timely, unbiased evaluation and investigation as well as recommendations for moving forward.

If you have questions about your potential risk liability and how to proactively address it, please call Kathryn Jensen at Predictive Assessments.