As TIME Magazine famously proclaimed on its Person of the Year cover, 2017 was a big year for women coming forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment against prominent men. The high-profile resignations and firings following many of these allegations have put the spotlight on workplace policies and procedures surrounding harassment.
A lot of big employers have already taken action in response. The U.S. Senate approved a resolution mandating sexual harassment training for all Senate employees. NBC announced that it was bringing in a firm to conduct training on workplace behavior and harassment prevention. A number of companies, including Vox Media, are revising their holiday party rules and instituting mandatory trainings for employees. And on January 2, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced a sweeping proposal to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. One of the main elements of the proposal is that taxpayers won’t be required to fund sexual harassment settlements involving claims against public-sector employees. There are also elements involving private companies, such as reporting requirements and prohibitions on mandatory arbitration. There’s a chance this could be the beginning of a trend nationwide.
Employment law experts seem to agree that now’s the time to take a look at company polices and make some improvements. Facebook recently made its internal policies on harassment and bullying publicly available in order to spur communication and transparency. If you’re looking to do an overhaul for your own firm or your employer clients in 2018, taking a look at those policies and other helpful resources could be a great way to evaluate existing policies and make some good updates. And of course, your ICLE Partnership also includes a lot of great resources to help you along the way: