Curbing harassment when clothing choices - and employee behavior - relax

Preventing sexual harassment is a priority in any workplace, at any time, but it takes a new spin during the “easy, breezy” days of summer. When the temperatures are rising, there's more to keeping your cool than running the air conditioner and sipping on iced drinks.

This is a good time to review your company’s dress code policy and specify what’s acceptable. Don’t assume that employees will use their better judgment when it comes to certain clothes (and how much skin they expose). Unless you clearly specify whether or not an item can be worn in the workplace, it’s likely to make an appearance. Are shorts, capris, tank tops, strappy summer dresses, sandals, flip-flops, hats and other warm-weather staples acceptable? And what if an employee shows up to work wearing something inappropriate? Will you send them home immediately, or issue a warning?

Keep in mind, too, that teens may be particularly vulnerable to harassment. Because they are younger and less experienced, they may be reluctant to stand up to harassing behavior. Or they may feel they don’t have the authorization to complain about a colleague, especially one in a more senior position. Further still, uninformed teens may be guilty of harassing another coworker, perhaps without even realizing the boundaries.

Working teens need to know what constitutes harassment, as well as what resources are available to them if they are victimized. Harassment training shouldn’t take a summer vacation: It is essential for reducing incidents of improper behavior among your year-round and seasonal employees.

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