Companies need 'zero tolerance' policy for sexual harassment, HR expert says

Posted at 4:30 AM, Oct 24, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The issue of sexual harassment has remained in the headlines as more victims have come forward with high-profile allegations. In cases like those of Bill O'Reilly and Harvey Weinstein, accusers have been saying they were harassed in the workplace. 

So what is the responsibility of a company in a situation like that? Cathleen Snyder, director of client relations for human resources firm Strategic HR, sexual harassment is a topic many companies don't want to address, but they can't ignore.

"There is a responsibility to provide a workplace that is free from any type of harassment or discrimination," she said.

Companies need to establish a "zero-tolerance" culture, according to Snyder. She said looking the other way just makes it worse.

"There can be a significant liability for the company if they somehow knew about it or should have known about it and didn't do anything abut it," Snyder said.

Meanwhile, any workers being harassed should report it, if they can, Snyder said. 

"When we put a policy together, it's best to have two people to report it to, because it could be the supervisor that's harassing you," she said. 

There are also other ways to report sexual harassment, through the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or by hiring an attorney and filing a lawsuit. 

"Tell somebody. Tell your supervisor. If you don't feel comfortable with your supervisor, if you have somebody in human resources you can talk to, tell another supervisor," Snyder said. "Tell someone."