Things You Should Know About Harassment

Everyone reserves the right to work in a workplace safe from harassment.  Several states, including the state of Illinois, are mandating sexual harassment training for all employers by the end of 2020.

If you haven’t gone through the required training yet this year, there are a few things you should know about harassment in order to identify and prevent it in your workplace.

Harassment, by definition, is unwelcome conduct that interferes with a person’s ability to do their work.  It is hostile, offensive, or intimidating behavior that makes people feel threatened, marginalized, or objectified in some way. Here are a few more things to know about harassment:

Harassment is ALL about impact. In other words, it’s irrelevant whether the person engaged in the conduct means any harm; it’s all about how the person on the receiving end feels.

Harassment isn’t limited to the physical workspace nor the standard workday. It can happen anytime: after-hours events, happy hours, conferences, or traveling together on business. In fact, harassment might be more likely to happen outside of the four walls of an office as people spend more time outside in informal settings.  The harassment policy in your organization provides protection at all times.

Preventing harassment is everyone’s job because harassment impacts everyone.  An organization is most successful, productive, profitable and effective when everyone is comfortable and contributing at their highest possible level. When employees feel harassed, they tend to engage in one of three behaviors:

• Absenteeism – they avoid the harasser or the environment where harassment takes place. In this case, it could mean avoiding managers, co-workers or company functions. An employee might start chronically arriving late for work because they are avoiding possibly being alone in the office with the harasser.

• Presenteeism – employees are physically present at work out of necessity, but not fully engaged. You might notice strained relationships between people, awkward interactions, or the person “tuning out” more frequently. A formerly enthusiastic and highly vocal employee may suddenly become reserved and guarded because they don’t want to do anything to draw the attention of the harasser.

• Leave an Organization

The best way to prevent harassment is to address it head on, including reporting the situation to HR (whether you experience it yourself or you witness it occurring to someone else), creating an out for someone you believe is experiencing harassment, and calling out problematic comments and behavior whenever possible to show the impact.

Are you or your colleagues tasked with bringing anti-harassment training to your organization this year? JB offers harassment prevention training in the form of live workshops (for managers and individual contributors), webinars, and (coming soon!)eLearning. Reach out to us if you would like to learn more about our program.

Illinois Human Rights Act and the Workplace Transparency Act

• Illinois employers have until December 31, 2020 to provide sexual harassment prevention training.

• Employers who have 1 or more employees must provide a sexual harassment prevention training.

• All employees regardless of their status (i.e. short-term, part-time, or intern) must be trained.

• Any employees who work or will work in Illinois must be trained, regardless of whether the employer is based in Illinois. If an employee is based elsewhere but regularly interacts with other employees in Illinois, even if they are not physically present in Illinois, they should be trained.