Employers should ideally investigate and address any sexual harassment reports from their employees as soon as possible. But not all employers have a definite or organized plan in place.
A state audit found that California State University (CSU) had a flawed sexual harassment policy. Officials concluded that CSU didn’t have proper guidelines for launching formal investigations into harassment cases.
The audit checked the records of CSU’s 23 campuses from 2018 to 2022 and discovered that employees submitted over 1,200 sexual harassment reports. But of those reports, CSU investigated only 254. State officials also revealed that there were almost 160 employees accused of harassment multiple times during those seven years.
Auditors also said that CSU had questionable determinations for seven of its investigations. In one case, a faculty member who made inappropriate comments and actions toward workers without their consent was found not to have violated CSU’s policy.
State law on how employers should handle sexual harassment cases
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits sexual harassment in all workplaces. It applies to all employers in the state, regardless of their size. The law also requires employers to not only quickly respond to harassment reports but also actively take steps to prevent them from happening.
Employers must protect employees from sexual harassment and other workplace mistreatment per state law. If an employer fails to investigate and resolve an employee’s harassment claims thoroughly, that employee can hold their employer responsible along with the harasser.
Wronged employees should consider speaking with a legal professional to understand their options and see if a lawsuit is the best option to resolve a harassment claim, especially if their employer failed to address the report.