With the hype of what some are defining as “locker room banter,” employers have been left wondering if such inappropriate conduct might be plaguing their own workplace. 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 employees who have 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.

What is the problem with this conduct?
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 work place, no matter the industry or size of the company. This dangerous behavior can create a hostile work environment for employees of either gender and expose the employer to a costly sexual harassment claim.

What steps can you take to curb “locker room” conduct in your workplace?

  1. Provide sexual harassment training to 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 sexual 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 workplace 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 sexual harassment and assure them it will be handled confidentially. Explain to employees they will not face retaliation for raising such a complaint, particularly because that is against the law.

Harassment in any form should not have to be tolerated at work. 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.

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