You asked for it and we listened. In this column, we ask operators of all sizes and from all walks of the industry a question about their business and report their answers so you can assess how your own company compares to your peers. If you would like to participate, please email Rob Smentek at firstname.lastname@example.org for next issue’s question.
TOPIC: Tell us about your sexual harassment and abuse policies. Do you have written policies in place? Has the onslaught of sexual harassment reports reported in the media caused you to revisit or revise your program and procedures?
We have a written sexual harassment policy developed by an HR consultant familiar with federal and state regulations and laws. The policy is included in the employee handbook given to all of our new staff, and a signed acknowledgement page is placed in each employee’s personnel records. The policy, which was recently reviewed and deemed to need no changes, is supported by a progressive discipline approach (also defined in our handbook) that can lead to dismissal.
Randy Allen, Owner
James Limousine in Richmond, Va.
Things are certainly more complicated than they were 15 years ago, so we have revisited our harassment policy and added new language and guidelines to our employee handbook, which offer more levels of protection for the company and our employees. Our company has zero tolerance when it comes to any of our staff feeling uncomfortable. In the past, we had to fire a chauffeur for invading the personal space of an employee.
Our staff ranges in age from 25 to 70, and they tend to conduct themselves in a professional manner. In addition to the policies put forth in our employee manual, we also instruct our managers to avoid gossip and stay neutral when it comes to personal matters among the workers, particularly since we do not prohibit employees from dating.
Gary Day, CEO
American Limousines in Baltimore, Md.
Our sexual harassment policy was drafted with assistance from The LMC Group, and we recently included an overview of it at our first quarterly meeting this year. Our employees are expected to be aware of this policy and of the types of conduct that may constitute unlawful harassment, as well as the avenues of assistance provided by Going Coastal Transportation for addressing complaints of sexual harassment. This policy extends to each level of our operations, including employees, managers, or non-employees doing business with GCT. We require that each of our managers be accountable for the prevention and elimination of all forms of harassment within their respective departments.
Clayton Dennard, Owner
Going Coastal Transportation in North Charleston, S.C.
During the on-boarding process for new hires, we go through the polices in our handbook, including the sexual harassment policy. Each employee then signs an acknowledgment stating that he or she has received the handbook. In addition to the paperwork piece of the handbook, we take it a step further: Our chauffeur manager not only reviews the policy again, but also discusses what could be construed as sexual harassment using an interactive classroom method. The manager goes through several scenarios that a new employee may find themselves in, and together they discuss the best methods to either avoid potential problems or conduct themselves appropriately.
Throughout the course of employment, if a situation is reported, that notification will immediately trigger an investigation. Dependent upon the situation, the at-fault/at-error employee will either be terminated or re-educated—with mandatory training as part of the re-education process.
Additionally, we have made the decision to implement annual training, where all employees will log onto our HR portal and go through a one-hour webinar.
Jon Epstein, President
Royal Coachman Worldwide in Denville, N.J.
At BEST Transportation, we have always had anti-sexual harassment and discrimination policies in place. We do new team member orientation classes, and this is a topic highlighted in our team member handbook. In the past, we’ve done a company-wide mandatory classroom training program where our HR attorney presented a very valuable training program on these topics.
In light of recent events in the news, it has caused us to schedule these classes again so that all team members have a re-training on the importance of our maintaining our high standards of ethics and conduct in the workplace. We are also looking into including an employee assistance program in our team member benefits, as it could be a great resource for our team and supervisors to assist with addressing these and other important topics.
Kim J. Garner, President
BEST Transportation in St. Louis, Mo.
We have a fairly generic sexual harassment policy in our employee handbook. We are currently examining it to see if we need to make changes to it, possibly expanding into more detail as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. We are a family company, and have never encountered any type of sexual harassment within our company, either internal or external; I think we are fortunate in that respect. We have zero tolerance for any type of harassment, and would take any allegations very seriously.
I have personally discussed this topic with my office staff, which happens to be all female, and we keep an open dialogue about all aspects of what we do, including other topics that are “highly uncomfortable.” Sometimes we even end up joking around during those discussions by the end of them. We are all very thankful that we have an environment where we can speak openly and freely, and still feel safe.
Tracy Salinger, General Manager
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
Exclusive Sedan Service is committed to creating a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Any form of harassment is prohibited and will not be tolerated. As such, we do have a written policy in place that all employees are expected to adhere to. Reported or suspected harassment is promptly investigated, and we take immediate and appropriate disciplinary actions. Our guidelines describe sexual harassment as unwelcome advances, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct that is implied to be a condition of employment or interferes with an individual’s work performance.
In addition to clearly defining harassment, we also put a procedure in place to report incidents. We instruct any employee who is feeling uncomfortable to inform the alleged offender immediately; in most instances, the person is unaware of their conduct and this often resolves the problem. If this doesn’t remedy the situation, a manager or supervisor should be made aware, and will work to take the necessary steps to correct the problem.
Ron Stein, Owner
Exclusive Sedan Service in North Hollywood, Calif.
At Destination MCO, we have both sexual harassment and harassment policies in place. Both of these policies are in writing in our employee handbook, which all staff members receive on their first day of work. We further provide harassment training to ensure an understanding of the policy and the appropriate methods in which to report any inappropriate behavior. Current events have definitely made us review our policies in regard to the application to social media and other forms of technology. As always, we consult with a legal representative to ensure we are compliant with all federal and state laws.
Juliet Wilkes, Human Resources Manager
Destination MCO in Orlando, Fla.
We’ve loved hearing your answers to our benchmarking questions since debuting this interactive section—but we always welcome suggestions for future topics, too!
Have you wondered how others in the industry have tackled a concern you’re currently facing, handled a delicate issue, implemented a certain policy, or do you simply want to propose a topic for our consideration?
Send an email to email@example.com and you just might see your query answered in a future issue. We look forward to your input!