Many employers have unclear policies regarding punishment for sexual harassment in the workplace. For this reason, employees who have been found to engage in sexually harassing behavior often find a way to return to work despite an employer’s resistance to such an arrangement. A recent study from Michigan University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations exposed some vulnerabilities in the system that allows workplace sexual harassers to sidestep repercussions for their actions.
Many businesses employ a system by which employees are bound to resolve any issues that arise during the course of their employment by way of arbitration. Unfortunately, the arbitrator is bound to interpret the employment arrangement and the understandings of such by consulting the employee policy manual as an indication of the agreement between the employer and the employee.
If the harassment policy officially presented by the company fell short in its definition of sexual harassment itself or the prescription for how it should be handled, the arbitrator may find that the employee could not have broken the undisclosed policy or that the punishment for the behavior has no basis in the employment agreement.
University of Michigan Study
Two University of Michigan associate professors looked at 60 cases in which employees had been accused of harassment. In most cases, the employee had been let go and challenged the decision with the ultimate goal of regaining employment. The study showed that only 52 percent of cases upheld the employee’s dismissal. Astonishingly, harassers got their jobs back and saw no punishment for their behavior in 13 percent of cases.
In the remaining cases, the harasser faced at least some consequence. In 12 percent of cases, the employee returned to work, but received no back pay. Another 20 percent of studied cases reduced the punishment from dismissal to suspension, and two percent of harassers only received a warning. The study indicated that the limitations of company anti-harassment policies were at the heart of the arbitrators’ ability to uphold the employers’ intended penalty.
Chester County Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Handle Sexual Harassment Employment Cases
Employers risk a lot by allowing a sexual harasser back into their workplace. The advice of an attorney with knowledge of harassment-related legal issues can be beneficial for employers when it comes to instituting and upholding related company policies. The Chester County sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. help employers protect their business interests by taking action to present clear penalties for employees who engage in sexual harassment. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.