The Fox Should Not Run Your Chicken Coop

If there’s one thing that hopefully all employers know by now, it’s that a harassment-free workplace is a product of top-down respect and compliance.

Perhaps nothing is more important than a workplace that knows that management “from the top down” will not tolerate harassment of any kind, and will insist on proper and non-discriminatory behavior.  And not ignore complaints, or worse – retaliate or make it worse.

Forgive the old maxim, but a company should not put a fox in charge of the chicken coop.

So if I had to give one bit of last minute, end-of-the-year employment advice it’s this:

maintain and update your employee manuals, maintain a consistent and current anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, train your workforce accordingly (it’s mandatory in places like NY!) – and above all ensure that the management role models are proper ones.

The last thing that your workplace needs is a “Mad Men” attitude, where everyone feels free to follow the (lawless) leader and there is no one to whom an employee who feels harassed can feel free to turn to for relief and remediation. Discrimination and harassment are bad, but worse is an organization – or leader – that permits it or ignores it.


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Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]