Agrees to conduct workplace harassment training
The news that Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay $10.1 million to resolve allegations of sexual and racial harassment at two of its plants in Chicago is yet another reminder for organizations in every industry to demonstrate their commitment to maintain a safe, productive, and harassment-free work environment or else face serious penalties.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said that its investigation into the charges found “reasonable cause” to believe that Ford workers at an assembly plant and stamping plant in the Chicago area had subjected female and African American employees to sexual and racial harassment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The EEOC also said that Ford retaliated against employees who complained about harassment or discrimination.
In addition to paying up to $10.1 million to eligible employees, Ford also agreed to:
- Disseminate its anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and procedures to all employees and new hires
- Conduct regular training at its two facilities in the Chicago area
- Report to EEOC all complaints of harassment and/or related discrimination
- Monitor its workforce for issues of alleged sexual or racial harassment and discrimination
The EEOC has been clear about its emphasis on workplace culture, believing that it has the greatest impact on whether and how actively organizations prevent harassment and other misconduct.
Taking a cue from the agency, here are four ways that organizations can support a positive workplace culture:
- Develop an anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy that is comprehensive, easy-to-understand, and promoted to staff (via newsletters, podcasts, posters, lunch and learn events)
- Implement a procedure for complaints that is accessible to all employees and offers different ways for reporting harassment and discrimination (via an ethics hotline, email)
- Schedule regular training for employees − regardless of their location – on the organization’s harassment policy and how to use the complaint/reporting system
- Conduct training for managers and supervisors on how to identify potential risk factors and consider what actions to take that may reduce or prevent the risk of discrimination and harassment
Whether it’s an automotive assembly plant, a Silicon Valley campus or a cable TV newsroom, to foster a productive, harassment-free workplace organizations need leaders who make
anti-discrimination and harassment a strategic priority, along with clearly articulated policies that hold employees and managers accountable for participating in or allowing harassment to occur in the workplace.