This policy equips our team members with the knowledge to recognize and address harassment in our workplace. That way, we can foster a work culture that is safe and inclusive for everyone.
Workplace Harassment Policy Template
This template provides a basic structure for your workplace harassment policy. And it works as a starting point for building your company’s policy. We highly suggest adding, changing, or rearranging content to make it your own!
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These guidelines apply to all employees, visitors, business partners, customers, and anyone else on company property during work hours.
What is sexual harassment?
Perhaps the most well-known form of harassment, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Whether the victim or harasser is the same or opposite sex, a supervisor, coworker, vendor, customer, or intern, doesn’t matter. We’re all held to the same standards and protections.
There’s a good reason too! Sexual harassment is a serious problem in the United States.
- Over 80% of women have experienced sexual harassment.
- Nearly 45% of men have experienced sexual harassment.
- Roughly 51% of LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced sexual harassment.
So, here’s what you need to know: unwelcome behavior is exactly what it sounds like. It’s any action that is offensive and unwanted. Meaning, just because you didn’t mean to offend someone doesn’t get you off the hook. What matters is the effect your actions have on your coworkers.
And people who aren’t your intended audience, but still hear or see what you’re doing, can be considered victims too. The person you’re telling the joke to might find it funny. But the person walking by might not. Your intention does not protect you.
In most states, sexual harassment is defined as inappropriate behavior that is so “severe or pervasive” that it significantly affects working conditions.
Legally, it’s considered harassment if the conduct is “severe” – meaning serious, or “pervasive” – meaning frequent.
A rare slip-up or an innocent mistake won’t usually constitute sexual harassment, legally. That being said, as far as your employee handbook is concerned, you’re crossing the line by doing it even once.
What are other types of harassment?
Workplace Harassment is any type of verbal or physical conduct designed to threaten, intimidate, or bully an employee, co-worker, or any person working on behalf of the company.
The following examples of harassment are guidelines that can help us recognize harassment at work (this is not an exclusive or complete list):
Verbal harassment refers to comments that are offensive or unwelcome regarding a person’s protected status. This includes epithets, slurs, and negative stereotyping.
Protected statuses include:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression
- Marital status
Nonverbal harassment refers to any distribution, display, or discussion that ridicules, insults, shows hostility or disrespects an individual or group because of their protected status. And it can be written or graphic material.
How to stop harassment in the workplace
1. Stop harassment in its tracks
If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, let them know right when it’s happening. That way, it doesn’t have a chance to get worse.
A quick, confident response tells the harasser, and anyone else around, that acting like that isn’t cool, you won’t put up with it. And if they stop, then everyone can move on and behave like professionals.
If you need to confront a harasser, tell them how what they are doing makes you feel. For example, say: “you’re probably just trying to be funny. But I feel uncomfortable when you talk like that.”
Or, if you witness harassment happening in the workplace, say something! Employees who witness harassment should offer their support to teammates. You’re the key to creating a positive work environment.
2. If it doesn’t stop…
If you can’t confront the harasser or your comments don’t change things, you need to contact [your manager, company owner, or HR].
Make your complaint in writing, if possible. Record all of the relevant info, including:
- People involved
- Who said or did what
Then get coworkers to support the evidence, if possible.
3. Be a good bystander
Basically, this comes down to speaking up!
Contribute to a culture where everyone feels safe. If you believe that someone is crossing the line – but nobody says anything – then step up and support your teammate. You’re not only protecting the person being offended, but you might be giving the offender a chance to correct their actions before it escalates!
When bystanders stay silent, and targets are expected to carry all the responsibility for dealing with offensive behavior, it normalizes harassment and hostile work environments.
It’s all about building a sense of community – fostering the notion that everyone should set the tone for what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Meaning, you’re responsible for standing up for coworkers who don’t stand up for themselves. And if the harassment continues, talk to [your manager/HR] immediately!
Our workplace harassment policy
[Company name] is committed to providing a work environment where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.
Our anti-harassment policy expresses our commitment to maintaining a workplace that is free of verbal, physical, and visual forms of harassment. So that everyone can work in a productive and respectful environment.
We will not tolerate anyone intimidating, humiliating, or sabotaging others in our workplace. We also prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, disability, or age.
Bottom line: harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
Any employee who has questions or concerns about these policies should talk with [the director of human resources or the personnel practices committee].
If you have any questions about our workplace harassment policy, please contact [HR].
How to report harassment
Individuals who believe they have either of the following should discuss their concerns with [their immediate manager or HR] immediately:
- Been the victims of conduct prohibited by this policy
- Witnessed such conduct
Investigating a complaint
We take every complaint of sexual harassment very seriously.
Once a complaint is filed, the organization will conduct an investigation. They might suspend the accused harasser pending the investigation.
During the investigation, we cannot promise complete confidentiality. But we will make reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of all parties involved.
The identity of the complainant is usually revealed to the parties involved. And the supervisor will take adequate steps to protect the complainant from retaliation during and after the investigation.
Consequences for harassment depend on the severity of the offense and may include counseling, reprimands, training, suspensions, or termination. And disciplinary action will be up to HR’s discretion following the investigation.
Making an authentic complaint will in no way be used against the employee or harm the individual’s employment status.
However, filing groundless or malicious complaints is an abuse of this policy and will be treated as a violation. Any person found having violated the policy will be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Have a question about this policy? Reach out to [HR contact].
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