Human resources questions: racial or sexual harassment issues

March 17, 2011
Tim Twigg and Rebecca Crane of Bent Ericksen & Associates explain precautions you can take to make sure sexual harassment doesn’t become a problem in your dental practice.

Question: Several of my colleagues have recently had to address racial or sexual harassment issues. I have a remarkably effective and considerate dental team and anticipate no such problems, but I would like to help ensure this continues. How do you recommend I achieve this?

Answer: It certainly appears the primary issue is already being addressed: respectful and considerate behavior. When the values of the practice result in members holding each other accountable for respectful communication, problems are far less likely.

Many office team members become so comfortable with each other that intimate, familiar, or even caustic interactions can be considered the group norm. Such behavior, though, can easily be misinterpreted when new employees join the team, resulting in claims of harassment, hostility, or intimidation. Sadly, in the area of sexual harassment, "quit and sue" is becoming commonplace.

Awareness, adherence to anti-harassment policies, and providing training can be effective preventive approaches. You can often find experts who are skilled in providing in-service education. Some states now even require periodic sexual harassment training for managers to help alleviate problems.

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The opinions expressed above are based on the writer’s comprehensive background as a human resources professional and the policies in our Bent Ericksen & Associates products having been reviewed by legal counsel. The writer is not an attorney, and the advice provided in this message should not be construed as a legal opinion. If you have legal questions after considering the advice and reading any materials referenced, it is recommended that you consult with your attorney.

Author bio
Tim Twigg is the president of Bent Ericksen & Associates, and Rebecca Crane is a human resource compliance consultant with Bent Ericksen & Associates. For 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resource and personnel issues, helping dentists deal successfully with the ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more about its services, call (800) 679-2760 or visit