Creating a Harassment-Free Workplace
1. Write an anti-harassment policy
As an employer, you are liable for any sex discrimination that happens in the workplace. Under Title VII, this includes sexual harassment as well as sexist and transphobic behavior. The best way to protect your employees from sexual harassment, and yourself from liability, is to prevent it.
- Get together with human resources, union leaders, and write a firm policy banning sexual harassment. Make it clear that management holds itself responsible for preventing sexual harassment within the company.
- Define sexual harassment broadly. Prohibit illegal sexual discrimination; unwelcome advances; requests for sexual favors; and any verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature in the workplace.
- Ban the requirement of submission to any sexual conduct as a term or condition of employment, or used as a basis for any employment decisions.
- Ban all behavior that has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
- Include examples of sexual harassment, but state that the list of examples is not intended to be all-inclusive.
- Review Title VII and state law to make sure that you are including all applicable behaviors.
2.Lay out clear protocol for responding to harassment
Within your anti-harassment policy, make the steps for reporting sexual harassment clear. Your policy must encourage victims of sexual harassment to report the behavior. Authorize and identify several appropriate to receive harassment complaints.
- Your employees should have several options for individuals to report sexual harassment too, as this will help prevent them from, for example, having to report to their harasser or a close friend of their harasser.
3.Train your employees to prevent and report sexual harassment
Give everyone a copy of the policy. The sexual harassment prevention policy should be in the employee handbook, should be emailed to every employee, and should be reviewed during annual anti-discrimination training.
- Give frequent training. Train supervisors and all levels of management to spot, prevent, and punish sexual harassment and sex discrimination. Train employees in the correct steps to report sexual harassment.
- Follow state requirements, which are variable.
4.Monitor your workplace
Check for signs of harassment at all levels of your company. Eliminate any discriminatory jokes, signs, or cartoons that you see. Confront employees who are engaging in inappropriate behavior. If you think a co-worker is being harassed, encourage the victim to talk about it and to take immediate action to stop it.
5.Enforce the policy without exceptions
When a complaint arises, or when you witness harassment, immediately investigate and deal with the situation. Discipline company members who harass other employees. Protect and support employees experiencing harassment.
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Responding to Workplace Sexual Harassment
1.Recognize sexual harassment at work
Under Title VII, sexual harassment tends to fall into two categories: quid pro quo, and hostile environment. Quid pro quo is when you are expected to tolerate sexual harassment in return for a promotion, and assignment, or just to keep your job. This often comes from a boss, but it can come from other employees as long as they have some degree of power or are supported by someone in power.
2.Record incidents of workplace sexual harassment
Take notes and keep record of any sexual harassment that occurs. Write down the time and place of each incident, what each person said or did, and who witnessed the interaction. Save evidence of harassment: if you receive inappropriate emails or notes, save them.
3.Report at work
If you confront your harasser, tell your supervisor about the behavior and the fact that you have addressed it. If you do not, go directly to your supervisor or your company’s human resources department. Tell them you do not feel safe confronting your harasser and tell them why not. Make sure to tell your supervisor as soon as you have talked to your harasser, in case your harasser takes steps to retaliate against you.
Preventing Sexual Harassment Everywhere
1.Create a harassment-free secondary school culture
Train teachers to address inappropriate comments by students. Use the resources offered by your Title IV coordinator to train staff and disseminate information to all employees of the school. With teachers and your title IV administrator, create guidelines for students to recognize and report harassment on campus.
2.Insist on respect from friends and partners
Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual or sex-discriminatory behavior. It doesn’t just happen in the workplace. It can come from friends, partners, and exes. If any of your friends make unwanted sexist or sexual comments about you or your other friends, tell them to stop.
- Explain how you feel about your other friends. Listen to how they feel.
- If your friends persist in disrespecting you, refuse to hang out with them.