THE SHOP

March '18

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MARCH 2018 THE SHOP 57 individuals who say they were sexu- ally harassed," says Valda Ford, CEO Of Omaha-based Center for Human Diversity (centerforhumandiversity.org). "And that's a good thing. Before, it was too often a case of, 'he said, she said.' But now people will no longer deal with these indignities." COSTLY LAWSUITS The financial cost of sexual harassment lawsuits is top-of-mind for many business owners. And the cash involved can certainly be substantial: While federal law caps com- pensatory damages at $300,000, most state laws have no such ceiling. "It is popular for plaintiffs to sue under state law for the unlimited damages," says Harkins, noting the financial costs don't end there. "Most statutes include fee shifting provisions, so a prevailing employ- ee's attorney fees are paid by the employer. It's not uncommon for attorneys' fees to come to a quarter-of-a-million dollars, on each side." Moreover, transgressors can incur per- sonal responsibility. "Some state laws extend liability for gen- eral sexual harassment to the individual," says Bob Gregg, co-chair of the employ- ment practice law group at Boardman and Clark LLC, Madison, Wisconsin (board- manclark.com). This is especially the case if the harassment involves touching and groping, which can be deemed assault and battery. "Individuals can also be held liable for defamation if they spread false informa- tion, or make mocking comments, about a person's sexuality," he adds. Also, individuals can be held personally liable for sexual harassment against third parties such as customers, suppliers or public visitors to the workplace. And don't think only big employers are at risk. "Federal anti-discrimination law covers businesses with 15 or more employees," says Harkins. "And most states have similar laws which cover even smaller ones." PLUNGING MORALE Beyond financial loss from lawsuits and set- tlements, an organization with unchecked harassment can suffer a costly loss in staff morale. "Sexual harassment is a form of bul- lying," explains Ford. And bullying, she says, can take a toll on performance. "Instead of being productive, a harassed individual becomes constantly afraid of encountering another comment, another inappropriate touch, another arrival of that creeping feeling of 'here we go again.'" The harm can affect the employer's repu- tation. "Abused individuals will likely go into a protective stance when asked by a pro- spective employee about working at the company," says Ford. "They will try to find some way to alert the person about the abusive environment." In contrast, she adds, satisfied and secure employees are great recruitment tools. "There is no marketing better than someone saying, 'I love where I work.'" PROTECT YOURSELF So, how can you protect your business? Gregg says an organization can mount a sexual harassment defense by showing two things: First, that it took reasonable care to prevent and correct harassment; and second, that the plaintiff did not take advantage of corrective opportunities the employer had established. See the whole success story: www.iuseit.us For further information or technical support please call 1-888-MOLYOIL (665-9645) I use it! "No other products on the market compare to LIQUI MOLY!" Renato Fausch RSP-Motorsports Inc Kilworth-Komoka, Ontario CA #iuseit I use it! Made in Germany. Made for you.

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