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Post and Expand Your Harassment Policy

Fall 1996

Our Labor & Employment Practice Group would be happy to assist you with any questions relating to this article.

Having an anti-harassment policy in your employee handbook may not provide your company with as much protection as you may think it does. While it is essential to have an anti-harassment policy, the existence of the policy alone will not protect your company from potential liability if your company does not take reasonable steps to advise employees of that policy.

To maximize the protection an anti-harassment policy can provide, post the policy in one or more prominent places in every company facility. If the policy is not posted, temporary employees and independent contractors who are assigned to work at the facility may not be aware of the company's policy and the method for filing a harassment complaint. This means that, if such an individual is subjected to illegal harassment from a company employee, the company may not have the opportunity to remedy the harassment and will be at greater risk of liability.

In addition, if your company has not already done so, it should seriously consider expanding its anti-harassment policy beyond the prohibition of sexual harassment to prohibit harassment based on any legally protected characteristic. Many courts have concluded, for example, that racial and national origin harassment violates federal and state law.

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