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Latest Headlines are Wake-up Call to Employers and Managers

Nov 22, 2011 | Corporate/Business, Employment, News

The latest headlines alleging sexual harassment by presidential contender Herman Cain, and child sex abuse, reporting and cover-up issues at Penn State, clearly send a sad message about society. But, besides the moral and ethical concerns, this is a wake-up call for employers and managers to know and enforce their legal obligations about serious workplace misconduct, sexual harassment, reporting, and retaliation. Employers and individual managers face civil and criminal consequences if they fail to appropriately handle these situations.

What is a company’s liability for unlawful conduct of its employees? What are a company’s obligations once a violation is reported to a manager? Do employees or managers have a duty to report misconduct, like discrimination, harassment, or white collar crimes? How far does that obligation go – the next management level up? HR? Company president or CEO? Police? Must the reporter make sure that something is done to resolve the complaint? Are employees protected if they report violations?

Implications for businesses and their managers are serious. Now is a good time for businesses to review (or create) their harassment, discrimination, and retaliation policies and procedures, train managers and staff, and take preventative action to reduce legal risk.

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