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Practice Management

Do You Have an Effective Sexual Harassment Policy in Place?

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The #MeToo movement has put workplace sexual harassment policies under a microscope, and ophthalmology practices are not exempt from scrutiny. Best practices were addressed during the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s 2018 annual meeting in Chicago by Julia Prospero, Esq, of the law firm Wade, Goldstein, Landau & Abruzzo, PC in Berwyn, PA. 

It is not only important to create a policy, but also to communicate it to staff and revisit it regularly. “Don’t just draft it and put it in a drawer,” said Prospero. Also, be sure that the draft offers clear definitions of what constitutes harassment (jokes, comments, images, etc). Establish a clear reporting and investigation processes, and designate more than one person to whom individuals can report harassment. Importantly, assure employees that anyone who reports harassment will not be retaliated against. 

When handling a complaint, under no circumstances should you immediately dismiss it or pick sides. “Even if you think it’s not serious, take it seriously,” said Prospero. Additionally, act immediately, determine if the complaint is valid, and keep information confidential. 

If and when the investigation confirms the report, take action to:

  • Immediately end the harassment.
  • Restore any lost employment benefits or opportunities to the victim.
  • Prevent the harassment from recurring.
  • Discipline the harassing supervisor or employee consistent with the severity of the conduct. 

Prospero J. Let’s talk about sexual harassment. Talk presented at: AAO 2018 annual meeting; October, 26-30, 2018; Chicago.

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