Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint/Investigation Procedure

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Objective

The objective of this policy is to define workplace sexual harassment and to outline procedures for filing complaints, investigating sexual harassment claims and issuing appropriate disciplinary measures in the case of violations.

Scope

This policy applies to all employees of [Company Name] at all locations. All workers, at every level, will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge, for any violation of this policy. Employees are prohibited from harassing others both on and off the employer premises and during or outside of work hours.

Defining Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is persistent or offensive and interferes with an employee's job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment is defined by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when, for example: a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Sexual harassment can be physical and psychological in nature. An aggregation of incidents can constitute sexual harassment even if one of the incidents considered on its own would not be harassing.

Examples of prohibited conduct

Though sexual harassment encompasses a wide range of conduct, some examples of specifically prohibited conduct include the following:

  • Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit these assaults, and intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature, such as touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against another employee's body or poking another employee's body.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances, propositions or other sexual comments, such as sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks, jokes, or comments about a person's sexuality or sexual experience.
  • Preferential treatment or promises of preferential treatment to an employee for submitting to sexual conduct, including soliciting or attempting to solicit any employee to engage in sexual activity for compensation or reward.
  • Subjecting, or threats of subjecting, an employee to unwelcome sexual attention or conduct or intentionally making performance of the employee's job more difficult because of that employee's sex.
  • Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in [Company Name]'s workplace by the [Company Name] employees.
  • Retaliation for sexual harassment complaints.

Responding to Conduct in Violation of Policy

Employees

If an employee feels that he or she is being subjected to sexual harassment he or she may immediately inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and needs to stop. If the inappropriate conduct does not cease, or if the employee is unable to or uncomfortable with addressing the alleged harasser directly, he or she should report the incident to his or her own supervisor or to the human resource (HR) director. It is helpful, but not required, to provide a written record of the date, time and nature of the incident(s) and the names of any witnesses.

It is important to report all concerns of sexual harassment or inappropriate sexual conduct to the HR director or a supervisor/manager as soon as possible. Management must be made aware of the situation so that it can conduct an immediate and impartial investigation and take appropriate action to remediate or prevent the prohibited conduct from continuing.

Managers and supervisors

Managers and supervisors must deal expeditiously and fairly when they have any knowledge of sexual harassment within their departments, whether or not there has been a written or formal complaint. They must:

  • Take all complaints or concerns of alleged or possible harassment seriously no matter how minor or who is involved.
  • Report all incidents to HR immediately so that a prompt investigation can occur.
  • Take any appropriate action to prevent retaliation or prohibited conduct from recurring during and after any investigations or complaints.

Managers and supervisors who knowingly allow or tolerate sexual harassment or retaliation, including the failure to immediately report such misconduct to HR, are in violation of this policy and subject to discipline. 

Human resources

The HR director is responsible for:

  1. Ensuring that both the individual filing the complaint (complainant) and the accused individual (respondent) are aware of the seriousness of a sexual harassment complaint.
  2. Explaining [Company Name]'s sexual harassment policy and investigation procedures to all parties involved.
  3. Exploring informal means of resolving sexual harassment complaints.
  4. Notifying the police if criminal activities are alleged.
  5. Arranging for an investigation of the alleged harassment and the preparation of a written report.
  6. Submitting a written report summarizing the results of the investigation and making recommendations to designated company officials.
  7. Notifying the complainant and the respondent of the corrective actions to be taken, if any, and administering those actions.

The HR director will determine if an in-house investigation will be conducted or if a third party will be contracted to complete the investigation. All complaints involving senior management at the vice-president level or above will be handled by an external third party.

Complaint Resolution Procedures

Complaints should be submitted as soon as possible after an incident has occurred, preferably in writing. The HR director may assist the complainant in completing a written statement or, in the event an employee refuses to provide information in writing, the HR director will dictate the  verbal complaint.

To ensure the prompt and thorough investigation of a sexual harassment complaint, the complainant should provide as much of the following information as is possible:    

  1. The name, department and position of the person or persons allegedly committing harassment.
  2. A description of the incident(s), including the date(s), location(s) and the presence of any witnesses.
  3. The effect of the incident(s) on the complainant's ability to perform his or her job, or on other terms or conditions of his or her employment.
  4. The names of other individuals who might have been subject to the same or similar harassment.
  5. What, if any, steps the complainant has taken to try to stop the harassment.
  6. Any other information the complainant believes to be relevant to the harassment complaint.

Discipline

Employees who violate this policy are subject to appropriate discipline. If an investigation results in a finding that this policy has been violated, the mandatory minimum discipline is a written reprimand. The discipline for very serious or repeat violations is termination of employment. Persons who violate this policy may also be subject to civil damages or criminal penalties.

Confidentiality

All complaints and investigations are treated confidentially to the extent possible and information is disclosed strictly on a need-to-know basis. The identity of the complainant is usually revealed to the parties involved during the investigation and the HR director takes adequate steps to ensure that the complainant is protected from retaliation during and after the investigation. All information pertaining to a sexual harassment complaint or investigation is maintained in secure files within the HR department.

Other Available Procedures

The procedures available under this policy do not preempt or supersede any legal procedures or remedies otherwise available to a victim of sexual harassment under local, state or federal law.

Administration

This policy will be administered through [Company Name]'s HR director.

 





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