The ripple effect of the #MeToo movement has not spared Hawaii, where our small communities and “local culture of silence” can lead to an underreporting of sexual harassment.
“A lot of times employees don’t feel comfortable coming forward if something makes them feel uncomfortable,” said Michele Kauinui, director of human resource services at simplicityHR by ALTRES, in a recent feature in Hawai’i Business.
“It’s really the employer’s responsibility to keep a lookout for any type of behavior that might make their workplace an environment that employees don’t feel comfortable coming to,” she continues.
Under state law, employers are liable for acts of sexual harassment committed by themselves and their supervisory employees. They’re also responsible for acts committed by their employees and nonemployees if the employer knows, or should have known, about the unlawful conduct and failed to take appropriate action.
“If [employees] don’t feel like their concerns are taken seriously, that’s when they might consider going to an outside agency, resource, or let’s say an attorney to file a complaint,” she says, while emphasizing the importance of employers having an open door policy.
If you need consultation or assistance with anti-harassment policy and training, contact one of our helpful Human Resources Consultants at (808) 791-4900.