Human resources expert wrote book on workplace harassment

Published: Nov. 29, 2017 at 6:31 PM EST
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(11/29/17) - Vanessa Nelson wrote a book called "101 Costly HR Mistakes and how to Fix Them Before it's Too Late."

In it, she says a business without clear guidelines in the workplace can be hit hard in the pocketbook.

"Some of these mistakes can cost litigation into millions of dollars. So that's why I wrote the book," Nelson said.

Nelson has been operating Expert Human Resources in Flint Township for the past eight years. What she sees in business and offices would startle many.

"With what's happening now, with all the coming out, people are feeling more comfortable coming out," said Nelson.

Sexual harassment can be an unwanted touch or even pet names.

"You could call a person sweetheart, sweety-pie, cutie-pie, those types of things can be hostile," said Nelson.

And often the philosophy of the workplace and let harassment go unchecked. And if an employee should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and get a right to sue letter, there can be big headaches for the business.

"That employee can take that letter, the right to sue letter to a lawyer and the lawyer can pursue litigation against the company," said Nelson.

Nelson says morale is better in those businesses that enforce a firm anti-sexual harassment policy.

Two Mid-Michigan attorneys have been handling employment and harassment cases for years. They say businesses need to make sure the workplace is free of sexual harassment.

"There's been a tremendous explosion in sex harassment claims and complaints," said Glen Lenhoff, a employment law attorney based in Flint.

"It can be very damaging in terms of a civil lawsuit," said Dean Yeotis, an employment law attorney in Flint.

In the past few weeks we have seen a number of well-known people targeted with complaints of sexual harassment. The stories have apparently released a lot of pressure that has been building up in the workplace.

Allegations against Harvey Weinstein were just the beginning.

"I think a lot of women were galvanized by the Weinstein case," said Lenhoff.

And don't be surprised to see cases in mid-Michigan from women who have been harassed for years but were afraid to take action.

"The amount of money theoretically is limitless because you can seek economic loss. You can also seek compensation for emotional harm," said Yeotis.