Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may find yourself or your business dealing with some legal complications. That’s where IHRSA’s briefing papers come in handy. When you have questions, we have answers. We’re here to give your health club the specific legal information you need to make an informed decision regarding your business.

So let’s talk about harassment. What is it? Who can do it? Do you need a policy on it? What should that policy say? This briefing paper answers all these questions and more! Harassment is a serious form of discrimination. It is unwelcome conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) -- the federal agency charged with enforcement of federal anti-discrimination law -- in 2016 they recovered approximately $97.8 million for employees who filed charges of harassment. Since health clubs have a ‘social’ atmosphere, club operators are vulnerable to hostile environment sexual harassment charges, which are the predominant type of both general harassment and sexual harassment claims.

“You really need to take every complaint seriously. Out of 1,000 Americans surveyed in 2013 alone, 25% of women and 14% of men reported being sexually harassed by a co-worker.”

Helen Durkin, J.D., Executive VP, Public Policy


All of this can seem intimidating, but don’t worry, there are things operators can do to prevent sexual harassment from occurring or reoccurring. You can reduce your liability by establishing a detailed policy, conducting seminars for all employees, taking employee complaints seriously, and other steps found inside this briefing paper.

Now, before you download this briefing paper, it’s important to note that this document provides you with information applicable to all club operators dealing with harassment in their club. However, it should not be considered legal advice.

If you have questions after reading this briefing paper, you can always call IHRSA to see if we have additional information, but sometimes your best next step will be to seek the advice of a qualified attorney. If it does come to that, feel free to share the briefing paper with your attorney. It could cut down on your attorney’s bill since it starts the research for them.