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Workplaces across the state work hard to ensure a safe environment for all employees. Unfortunately, some instances of harassment still occur. Reports of harassment continue to come in. What can you do about it?

Nonphysical sexual harassment in particular often slides under the radar for numerous reasons. Figuring out a plan to address and combat this growing problem is crucial.

What is non-physical sexual harassment?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses the issues sexual harassment presents. In particular, the focus is on nonphysical sexual harassment. This type of harassment comes in different forms. For example, talking about someone’s sexual life behind their back falls under this category. So does the coercion or threat of an employee to perform sexual favors in exchange for something. Finally, gender-based derogatory remarks fall under this category, too. You cannot tell a female coworker to “get back to the kitchen”, as an example.

Addressing this form of harassment

There are many ways to address this. The first is to ensure that everyone knows your company will take nonphysical sexual harassment as seriously as any other form. Do not brush off cases that do not involve physical contact.

Next, make sure your human relations department is doing its job. Are the members of it reliable and trustworthy? Do they make others feel welcome and safe? If you need to, take a survey to see what the general opinion on HR is. Consider implementing any suggestions you get or making fixes to problems you see mentioned.

Always act quickly, too. The longer you let a problem fester, the more of an issue it can turn out to be in the future. Fast action now saves heartache, time and resources later.

If you are engaged in a workplace conflict, it is often in your best interest to make others within the company aware of the problem. In many cases, you will need to address the issue with your direct supervisor. However, it may also be possible to speak with someone higher up in the company if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your concerns with that individual. Regardless of who you talk to, it’s important to be prepared when initiating a conversation about a potentially sensitive issue.

Have a witness

Ideally, your boss will empathize with your concerns and take steps to rectify the issue in a timely manner. However, there is a chance that your supervisor will try to retaliate against you for making allegations against your colleagues. Having a witness sit in on a meeting can make it easier to protect yourself in the event that you need to take further action in the matter. It may also be worthwhile to have an employment law attorney join you during a meeting with your superior.

What would be an appropriate solution to your problem?

It’s a good idea to consider what would need to happen to resolve a conflict before seeking help from a supervisor. For instance, if you’re upset about an inappropriate comment that your colleague made, a simple apology may be an appropriate way to end a dispute. However, if your colleague has already turned down your request for an apology, you might want to ask that this person be transferred, given a written warning or face other types of discipline. Having a clear understanding of what you need to move on from a workplace incident may make it easier for your boss to take action in a timely manner.

If you are being mistreated at work, you may be entitled to various forms of relief. In some cases, you might receive compensation for lost wages, the value of lost benefits or other damages. An attorney may be able to help you obtain a favorable outcome in your case.

Diversity in the workplace remains a focus for many law firms, no matter their size. Inclusivity is not only expected but protected by discrimination laws. The American Bar Association notes that some firms are making use of the Mansfield rule, which deems that at least 30% of any workforce include those of minority status and women. 

Legal firms can broaden their relationships with clients and relate to a wider range of individuals when they earn Mansfield rule certification. 

About the Mansfield rule

The Mansfield rule gets its name from the first woman in the United States history legally allowed to practice law. According to the law, at least some of the women and minorities hired at a law firm must have the ability to apply for several roles, including: 

  • Governance  
  • Leadership 
  • Lateral  

This offers individuals positions that can positively influence the way the firm runs and its views toward diversity. 

Benefits

Applying the Mansfield rule to any firm may have a variety of benefits, even if it already practices hiring diverse individuals. They may provide attorneys and other employees with viewpoints and human resource ideals not considered in the past. This is one of the main benefits of this rule, as it exposes people to new ideas and outlooks other than their own, which may improve relations with a variety of clients and make the firm more relatable. This may also lower the risk of any diversity or inclusion lawsuits in the workplace, which may otherwise cause tension that affects company productivity. 

There is much lawyers, their clients and law firm employees can learn from the Mansfield rule. To date, the number of firms seeking certification continues to grow.