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5 Ways to Prevent Valentine's Day Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Valentine’s Day can become an issue for employers and employees alike.

As an employer, the last thing you want is an employment lawsuit stemming from an unfortunate incident on Valentine’s Day.

It’s wise to have a look at your workplace policies and send out an advisory to the employees a few days before Valentine’s Day. If you’re realizing now that you should have handled Valentine’s Day differently this year, here are a few things you should consider to prevent sexual harassment lawsuits next year:

  • Wishing “Happy Valentine’s Day. Managers should be careful when wishing “Happy Valentine’s Day” to their subordinates. Unless it’s a significant other, the well-wishing should be kept to a minimum. It’s not a huge deal but why not play it safe?
  • Limits on office relationships. You can’t always place an outright ban on office relationships, as that might not be practical. But specific policies and procedures in place for office romances would be helpful. For example, you can limit public displays of affection.
  • Make employees disclose relationships. If office relationships are out in the open, then you have less risk of random misunderstandings. Employees don’t need to disclose relationships to everyone but a disclosure to Human Resources would suffice.
  • Remind employees what isn’t appropriate. Send out a memo on sexual harassment and remind employees about appropriate versus inappropriate behavior. A small seminar might be advisable leading up to Valentine’s Day.
  • Follow up on complaints. It’s easy to brush complaints under the rug. After all, nobody wants to deal with complaints. But ignoring complaints of sexual harassment could cost you if the employee sues. Go over complaint policies and procedures with your management staff and your Human Resources department.

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