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The Impact Sexual Harassment At Small Companies

The Wall Street Journal recently reminded us that sexual harassment has been just as prevalent in smaller companies as larger ones. The #metoo movement has or should impact any business and force it to evaluate its current policies.

According the article, the informal atmosphere is both one of the strengths of working in a small company and the source of its biggest problem when it comes to sexual harassment issues.

Examples of this would be:

  • The informal atmosphere may leave some employees feeling comfortable with overstepping boundaries of appropriate behavior.
  • Small companies often do not have a dedicated human resources department, which leaves the harassed employee with no channels for reporting the problem. This is particularly problematic if the behavior at issue involves an owner or supervisor.

The Stakes Are Higher With Small Companies

The misbehavior by CEOs or others at large companies can lead to quick cash settlements with the victims to keep the accusations quiet. However, a small company may not be able to so easily pay an employee to settle. 

With this in mind, it is especially important for small business owners and managers to take all complaints seriously and not dismiss them as a harmless banter.

No one should assume their company is immune to sexual harassment claims. The key is to have a document in place on the matter so everyone in the company knows the rules. A good resource for establishing ground rules for appropriate behavior is an attorney with experience in sexual harassment matters.

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