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Workplace sexual harassment and how companies respond

Employees in Pennsylvania who face sexual harassment on the job might want to try to resolve the issue in their workplace. However, some workplaces do not have an effective system for investigating and dealing with workplace harassment. In fact, some companies are more concerned with protecting themselves. One attorney reports that a corporate lawyer in charge of sexual harassment policies told him on the stand in court that his job was primarily to protect the company. Some companies also use the reporting system for harassment and discrimination as a way to get an early warning about potential lawsuits.

At Sterling Jewelers, a company embroiled in class-action arbitration, some employees who used the company's hotline to report sexual harassment said they feared career repercussions. One female employee said she was told she should grow a thicker skin. The company also had an internal arbitration system that prevented employees from seeking remedies outside the company.

In addition to a concrete policy on sexual harassment, a company should have an investigative process that is transparent. A workplace should encourage reporting harassment and discrimination, and investigations should be done by third-party companies. Employees should not face retaliation for reporting harassment or discrimination.

An employee who has been sexually harassed on the job might still want to seek resolution in the workplace first. However, the individual might want to make certain that they understand their rights and their company's position on sexual harassment. The individual may want to review company policy and speak to an attorney about how they should approach the situation. If the workplace is not responsive, then the individual might want to file a lawsuit. The company may then offer to settle out of court, or the case might go to litigation.

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