David, Brody & Dondershine, LLP Experienced General Business Law Attorneys
2100 Reston Parkway, Suite 370
Reston, VA 20191

Striking the right workplace balance re a volatile topic

A principal with a prominent human-resources professional organization notes in a recent article that some members of a select workplace demographic “needed to get themselves in check.”

Reportedly, stresses the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), they have done that to a large extent.

In fact, many upper-tier male executives and other corporate managers might have overdone things a bit in responding to their growing fears concerning work-linked sexual harassment allegations brought by female employees. Research underlying the recently released findings of a poll conducted by the SHRM stresses that some response-to-threat behavioral adjustments might actually be so protective of women workers now that they are threatening their career prospects. Researchers refer to the “unintended consequences” of initiatives like the anti-harassment #MeToo movement.

Kid-gloves treatment from a sizable percentage of polled male business leaders is also noted in a recent Pew Research Center study. That effort spotlighted the view of fully 20% of respondents that an emerging widespread emphasis on sexual harassment “may lead to fewer opportunities for women.”

A delicate balance might indeed exist as healthy middle ground is being increasingly explored by American businesses. One company’s official manuals and policies might be woefully out of date and not remotely responsive to the realities of workplace discrimination. Another case might feature overcompensating behavior by key decision makers (e.g., the SHRM poll revealed one executive who now refuses to ride alone in an elevator with a female employee).

The bottom line, of course, is that continuing and common-sense adjustments will have to be made. Company executives obviously have questions concerning their firms’ rules, policies, handbooks and general culture. Experienced commercial law attorneys who routinely help diverse business clients with broad-ranging employment/labor law concerns can provide sound guidance and, when necessary, diligent legal representation.

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