This article originally appeared in the 2018 winter issue of OGR’s Independent magazine. This is part 2 of two-part series. By Stephanie Ramsey, The Foresight Companies, LLC
Last week, OGR’s blog discussed the problem of sexual/sex-based harassment in the workplace and how it’s defined. But what are some examples that might occur at the funeral home according to the EEOC😕 Here are some examples of sexual harassment that can occur in the workplace:
- Any unwanted touching, such as groping a co-worker in a sexual manner, is sexual harassment.
- Frequent lewd jokes around the workplace or dirty sexual anecdotes can be considered sexual harassment.
- Displaying sexual signage or posters in the workplace can be considered sexual harassment.
- The sharing of suggestive images (nude images, porn, etc.) with co-workers if it offends them.
- Asking invasive questions about one’s sexual history or sexual orientation.
- Rude or offensive comments about an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity can lead to a sexual harassment case. This includes a boss referring to his secretary in an offensive way.
- Frequent suggestive emails, notes, or letters that constitute an unwanted advance can be considered harassment.
- Making frequent sexual comments about an employee’s attire or body. A co-worker making inappropriate remarks about another co-worker’s blouse can be sexual harassment.
- Catcalling and whistling at an employee in the workplace.
- Blowing kisses, offensive hand gestures, using thrusting motions with the body or even continually staring at other employees in the workplace.
What a funeral home owner to do? Employers should consider taking the following basic preventative measures to limit their liability and protect their staff.
What if the policy indicates that all complaints be made to the funeral home manager, and the manager is the harasser?
- Develop an employee handbook which includes a clear, concise sexual harassment policy as well as a non-discrimination policy. The sexual harassment policy should define sexual harassment, explicitly set forth that sexual harassment is not tolerated, explain the consequences of such harassment and set forth a process for reporting and investigating complaints. It is vital that there be an avenue available to employers for filing a complaint against their manager or the owner. For example, what if the policy indicates that all complaints be made to the funeral home manager, and the manager is the harasser, who can the employee notify?
- Training is critical! Your employees should be trained on how sexual harassment is defined as well as examples: it is recommended that your employees receive sexual harassment training several times a year, focusing on common situations that some employees might not consider to be sexual harassment, but are.
- Monitor the workplace: Make it a regular practice to talk to your employees and ask them about their working environment to make sure it stays harassment-free. Create an anonymous survey that employees can answer and submit to upper management.
- Encourage employees to report inappropriate behavior or other concerns they may have. It is important that employees understand and believe that anything they tell you will be kept confidentially and will not in any way affect their career opportunities.
- Investigate all complaints. If the complaint has any basis, remedy the situation immediately.
- Remember prevention starts at the top!
Sexual harassment/sex-based harassment can create a tense and ineffective office atmosphere. Employees working in this type of atmosphere are not going to be motivated to provide the level of quality service you want your families to experience. Taking steps to prevent and address this type of harassment will likely be welcomed by your employees who deserve a safe and productive workplace. This, in turn, can increase employee morale which benefits the families you serve in the long run.
If you believe you might have a sexual harassment/sex-based harassment situation currently in your funeral business or you are not sure how to implement preventive measures don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance.
Stephanie Ramsey is the HR Specialist at The Foresight Companies, an OGR Supply Partner. She has a unique perspective on the challenges funeral and cemetery business owners and managers face when dealing with employee issues. She has written many employee handbooks and other job-specific documents for clients nationwide. Stephanie can be reached at Stephanie@f4sight.com