Preventing “Locker Room Banter” at Work
It’s the employers’ responsibility to take steps to stop workplace harassment and prevent it in the future. Image credits

With the hype of what some are defining as “locker room banter,” employers need to know how to determine if their own workplace is harboring harassment. Unfortunately, in many instances and on varying levels, the answer is yes.

According to EPLIPro.com, HR professionals throughout the nation working for employers of all sizes field numerous reports on a daily basis about employee conduct that has crossed the “locker room” line. These reports include employees who have (a) referred to each other by sexually based nicknames; (b) exposed themselves to other employees; (c) made sexual comments about female coworkers; (d) conditioned continued employment on sexual favors; and (e) distributed pornographic pictures of coworkers.

How words and actions create a hostile workplace

It would be easier to simply shrug off this type of behavior as “boys will be boys,” but there is no room for such schoolyard antics at any workplace, no matter the industry or size of the company. This dangerous behavior can create a hostile work environment for employees of either gender. Its connection to employment law means it also exposes the employer to a potential harassment claim.

Steps employers can you take to curb harassment in the workplace
  1. Provide and require sexual harassment awareness training for all employees. This should be a mandatory, annual training for managers and employees regarding appropriate conduct, reporting sexual harassment, and handling sexual harassment complaints.
  2. Thoroughly investigate all employee complaints relating to workplace harassment and take appropriate corrective action to address any wrongdoing. Employers who are proactive and respond immediately to complaints demonstrate a zero-tolerance stance that will likely prevent future occurrences.
  3. Develop strong anti-harassment policies and train your supervisory staff on how to enforce them. Be sure all employees are educated on these policies and understand the clear, disciplinary action process for any infractions. Have employees sign an acknowledgment form to demonstrate their understanding and awareness of the policies.
  4. Encourage employees to report all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment, and assure them it will be handled confidentially. Explain to employees they will not face retaliation for raising a complaint, particularly because that is against the law.

Workplace harassment in any form — whether sexual harassment, discrimination, or creation of an overall hostile workplace — should never be tolerated, nor should reports be shrugged off with “but they’re a good employee.” (Uber’s outcome indicates this is never the angle to take.) If you would like assistance with providing anti-harassment training to your staff, please contact our HR experts at hr@stratus.hr.

Original content from this article was sourced from EPLIPro.com and has been posted with permission.

Colin Thompson, Vice President - Human Resources

Author Colin Thompson, Vice President - Human Resources

Colin is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and manages internal human resources, in addition to servicing clients and overseeing our HR team. In his free time, you’ll find Colin at one of his four son’s ballgames or eating sushi.

More posts by Colin Thompson, Vice President - Human Resources