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Legions of small American businesses lack anti-harassment policies

Comparatively larger businesses across Connecticut and nationally have well-considered and comprehensive written policies spelled out in handbooks that address important work-related matters.

Unsurprisingly, much of what is spotlighted concerns on-the-job realities for workers and the procedures for governing problems and disputes at the workplace.

We note on the employment law page of our website at the proven business law firm of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah that "the employer-employee relationship is both symbiotic and adversarial." That dynamic has resulted over time in a proliferation of laws that govern workplace interactions. Business managers have necessarily responded to these with formal company blueprints concerning things like complaint reporting and the repercussions of wrongful worksite behavior.

But not all managers. A recent media report stresses that many of the work-linked dictates imposed by state and federal authorities do not apply to the nation's smallest workplaces. Many businesses with just a handful of workers or so deal with problems like discrimination and sexual harassment in a rather loose and informal manner.

That should change, states that article's author. Recent news and events firmly underscore how prevalent worksite misconduct is and how detrimental the downsides can be for companies that are found to be lax in responding to unlawful behaviors.

Reportedly, a recent survey of 2,000 business principals at small enterprises revealed that only about 50% of them have go-to policies for workers seeking to understand their rights and lodge complaints against harassing activities. That lack of any in-house clarity can obviously engender morale problems and promote a dangerous environment. It can also open up the door for a company to assume legal risks and potentially suffer money damages.

The antidote to such things is clear enough, states the above-cited USA Today piece. A small business owner with concerns should confer closely with experienced legal counsel "to devise a sexual harassment policy and complaint procedure that makes sense."

The benefits of doing so are both multiple and evident.

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