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Harassment Trend Line Improving

Alabama had 3,105 harassment and discrimination charges in 2013, down 4 percent from 2012, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A possible reason, according to one analyst: Businesses are putting more time and thought into their employee training to ensure employees understand what harassment and discrimination are and what they should do if an incident occurs.

Instilling strong ethics in employees from day one is crucial in establishing an ethical workplace that’s free of harassment and discrimination, according to Jimmy Lin, a vice president at The Network, an Atlanta-based governance, risk and compliance solutions provider with several Alabama clients.

An anti-harassment policy needs step-by-step instructions on what to do if an employee learns of violations to that policy. Employees should be educated as to what counts as discrimination and/or harassment and how to appropriately respond to these situations should they arise.

Middle managers sometimes worsen the situation, Lin says. Incidents are often buried if supervisors respond improperly or become afraid to get help from above by the time issues escalate.

A comprehensive workplace harassment training program needs to include periodic education, as well as follow-up awareness learning and ongoing awareness communications — it can’t be viewed as a “once and done” exercise. 

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