Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.
Several states mandate the display of sexual harassment posters, including Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. In other states, many employers choose to display a poster on sexual harassment prominently in the workplace, as part of their prevention program.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.
Massachusetts posters must be posted in every workplace in the state. It’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure that the posters are in a conspicuous location that is accessible by all of the employees. Possible places include the employee work room or break room or any other area that employees tend to gather before, during or after work.
The posters are very important for the state’s employees. Massachusetts posters give them the information they need to know exactly what their rights are when it comes to labor and employment laws. The posters also provide the necessary information to employees in terms of what they need to do if they think their employer has policies that go against these laws including the contact information for the appropriate state and federal agencies that deal with each specific matter. Employers also benefit from these posters because they can use them to make sure they are running their workplaces according to the law. They can also use the posters to settle disputes if the employees are unsure if the company policies are in accord with the laws.
Both state and federal laws need to be a part of the Massachusetts posters. The state laws that should be posted are those that cover discrimination, smoking policies, unemployment insurance, the Necessities Leave Act, sexual harassment, workers’ compensation, minimum wage/payment of wages and child labor. Federal laws that must be posted are USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law, Federal Minimum Wage, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and OSHA – Job Safety and Health Protection
Employers must also be aware that the labor laws change frequently (sometimes even annually) so even if they currently have Massachusetts posters, they may not be the most current.