How to prevent hostile work environment in California workplaces

Posted in Sexual Harassment,Sexual Harassment by Industry on January 2, 2014

When California workers start a new job, they expect to work in a safe, professional environment. Unfortunately, not all workplaces are free from discrimination and harassment or other factors that promote a hostile work environment. What’s more, unprofessional behavior can occur in any industry, with the primary culprit being strained relationships. Recent research indicates that as much as 80 percent of workplace problems originate from such relationships.

Relationship troubles can occur anywhere, and across many dynamics. Just take the example of astronaut, Lisa Nowak, who faced criminal charges after reportedly attempting to kidnap a woman who was having an interoffice romance. Then there is Richie Incognito, a football player accused of harassment of a teammate. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s former governor, has experienced the woes associated with relationship trouble in the workplace.

There are measures that employers and employees can take to help ensure that workplaces all across California are safe and free from strain and hostility. Foremost among them are ensuring that proper regulations and policies, such as time management strategies and office romance policies, are in place and adhered to. It is recommended that employers make it clear what their goals and values are, and what they expect from their employees in regards to conduct. Some sources also recommend that employees be aware of how to help diffuse unprofessional conduct, including making their feelings known and being able to steer conversation.

When California business owners and managers fail to follow policies and regulations, or themselves contribute to creating a hostile work environment, they may find themselves being held accountable for their unprofessionalism. Our state has laws in place helping to protect the victims of discrimination or harassment, and ensuring that their legal rights to a safe workplace are upheld. Employers who fail to uphold the rights of their employees may find themselves the subject of lawsuits or other legal recourse, which are often a viable option for the victim.

Source: Reuters, How to Set Healthy Boundaries in Your Workplace, No author, Dec. 30, 2013