Preparation Is Key In Handling Sexual Harassment Allegations

Sexual misconduct in the workplace has dominated recent headlines, so much that the "Silence Breakers" have been named Time Magazine Person of the Year. As a result, many businesses and organizations are now grappling with how to best address and prevent harassment in the workplace.  Here are a few tips for your cemetery:

  1. Have A Written Policy. The single most important step a cemetery can take. By clearly defining what constitutes inappropriate conduct, employees are put on notice about appropriate behavior. The policy should detail how employees can make claims, how the cemetery will investigate such claims, and potential disciplinary action. This will dictate how the cemetery responds when an allegation is made, and help insulate it from liability.

  2. Talk To Your Employees. A written policy must be disseminated to employees, and they must understand its contents. While formal training sessions may not be practical for smaller cemeteries, a staff meeting to go over the policy should be held at least once a year. Employees should also be required to sign an acknowledgement that they read and understood the policy. 

  3. Be Evenhanded. A written policy is only as effective as its implementation. Once adopted, the policy must be consistently applied to all employees. If an allegation of misconduct is made, it should be investigated without deference to the identity or position of the parties. By the same token, disciplinary action should be consistent with the policy and the severity of the violation. 

Finally, it is important to remember that harassment in the workplace can take many forms. As such, it may be prudent to address other forms of harassment, such as harassment based on race, religion, age, etc.

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