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Many companies turn a blind eye toward workplace harassment. Yet, having a strong plan to combat it can protect your business. When an employee reports harassment to you, you’re obligated to take it seriously. You can take these steps to make them feel heard and ensure that the accused is properly disciplined.

An employer’s obligation

By federal law, employers must protect their employees from unlawful harassment. One way they can do so is by creating a safe place for reporting harassment. Victims of harassment must trust that you will protect their confidentiality. They must also know that they will not face consequences for bringing the incident to your attention.

New York and Connecticut must also provide harassment training for employees. Connecticut mandates that all businesses employing three or more people offer instruction. And New York’s statute decrees that all businesses larger than one person adhere to the state’s training guidelines.

Consequences for harassment

As an employer, you must communicate to the harasser that their actions are not tolerated. If their infraction was minor or isolated, have them undergo further training to prevent future infractions. To help the victim feel safe at work, have the harasser apologize.

Yet, the harasser may have committed a serious violation of your company’s policy or is a serial offender. In these cases, swift action is necessary. You may need to transfer them to a different department or demote them. If the harassment continues, it’s worth considering terminating the employee at fault. If you do not reprimand the harasser, you, as their employer, face liability for their actions.