Medesthetics

MAY-JUN 2018

MedEsthetics—business education for medical practitioners—provides the latest noninvasive cosmetic procedures, treatment trends, product and equipment reviews, legal issues and medical aesthetics industry news.

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BUSINESS CONSULT 24 MAY/JUNE 2018 | Med Esthetics end there. "Most statutes include fee shifting provisions, so a prevailing employee's attorney fees are paid by the employer. It's not uncommon for attorneys' fees to come to a quarter of a million dollars on each side," he says. Moreover, transgressors can incur personal responsibil- ity. "Some state laws extend liability for general sexual ha- rassment to the individual," says Bob Gregg, co-chair of the employment practice law group at Boardman and Clark in Madison, Wisconsin. This is more likely in cases where the harassment involves touching and groping, which can be deemed assault and battery. "Individuals can also be held liable for defamation if they spread false information or make mocking comments about a person's sexuality," he says. Finally, individuals can be held personally liable for sexual harassment against third parties such as customers, suppliers or public visitors to the workplace. Beyond fi nancial loss from lawsuits and settlements, harassment can lead to a costly loss in staff morale. "Sexual harassment is a form of bullying," explains Valda Ford, CEO of Omaha, Nebraska-based Center for Human Diversity. "Instead of being productive, a harassed indi- vidual becomes constantly afraid of encountering another comment, another inappropriate touch, another creeping feeling of 'here we go again.'" PROTECTING YOUR PRACTICE How can you protect your employees and your practice? Create good policies. "Create written policies that prohibit sexual harassment and promote a respectful work- place," says Gregg. "And don't just bury them somewhere in your employment handbook. Communicate them in employee orientations and continually emphasize them in staff meetings." Your attorney or human resources (HR) provider can help you create an anti-harassment policy and training schedule. Sample policies are available online through the International Labour Organization (ilo.org) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov). Establish a reporting procedure. "Designate properly trained individuals to whom complaints can be made," says James J. McDonald, Jr., managing partner at Fisher & Phillips in Irvine, California. He warns against requiring complainants to report incidents to supervisors, who may not have the requisite training or may them- selves be offending parties. Instead, assign properly trained individuals in the human resources department. If you do not have an HR department, practices can contract with an independent HR service fi rm. "Some human resources consultants provide fractional services for smaller clients," says McDonald. "They might provide an individual to work on site for two days a week and/or offer availability through a telephone hotline." Respond quickly to complaints. Take prompt action when an individual reports harassment. "People are more prone to utilize internal resources to resolve problems if their employer has a record of prompt and effective action when harassment is reported," says McDonald. "On the other hand, if an employer has not taken sexual harass- ment reports seriously, people are more likely to use out- side attorneys to sue when harassment occurs." The fi rst step is to investigate each complaint thoroughly. Interview any third-party witnesses and fi nd out what cor- rective action the complainant deems appropriate. "While © GETTY IMAGES While every business owner wants to mitigate the risk of fi nancial penalties resulting from harassment claims, there is more at stake than simply avoiding costly lawsuits.

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