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How can I prevent misconduct and create a friendly workplace?

In one scenario of an ideal world, there would be no need for rules about behavior. Everyone would hold to what one Midwest radio personality we know of derisively calls the "Euphorian view" – a philosophy that pursues "mechanisms to alleviate the struggle to achieve."

An environment where everyone behaves properly is a laudable goal, but many would argue it isn't realistic. Therefore, we make rules, with some of them governing our work lives. In the workplace, employers and employees both have obligations, especially to curb discriminatory or harassing behavior. How can this be achieved?

What employers can do

A heavy share of the burden for creating a positive work environment depends on individual employees being held responsible for their actions. But there are certain things employers can do, too. These include:

  • Taking the initiative to document and implement anti-discrimination and harassment policies that conform to federal and New York law.
  • Providing the time and training necessary to educate employees on expected behavior, including making sure management personnel know their obligations to report complaints when they occur.
  • Clearly identifying a manager to receive complaints and make sure everyone knows to direct complaints to that person.
  • Taking every complaint seriously, and investigating each discreetly and thoroughly. Steps taken should be documented for the record.

Some caveats

Due diligence in support of the person making a complaint must be matched by due process for anyone accused of wrongdoing. Don't try to discourage a complainant from turning to government agencies for help. That's their right.

At the same time, carefully consider the rights of the accused harasser before taking any action that might be construed as punishment. It might be possible to modify assignments or hours of individuals in order to maintain harmony in the workforce.

Finally, if the determination of an investigation is that improper behavior did occur, be sure that the punishment meted out fits the offense.

If you're reaction to these tips is that it's something only big business can afford, consider taking advantage of a free initial consultation with an attorney skilled in this area of law to learn more.

Source: FindLaw, "Tips for Creating a Friendly Workplace," accessed Sept. 19, 2017

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