The policy of our company is to maintain work environment which is free from sexual harassment. Actions classified as sexual harassment are violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment or any offensive actions directed towards employees, colleagues, subordinates, clients and non-employees are absolutely prohibited, and disciplinary actions will be taken against individuals sexually harassing others.
Definition of sexual harassment
Federal and state legislation defines sexual harassment as the requests for sexual favors or unwelcome advances of sexual character, or other physical or verbal sexually related conduct where employment of the individual, or the conditions for employment, are in implicit or explicit way influenced by the submission or rejection of this conduct, and rejection or submission of this conduct are considered the basis for employment decisions related to this individual, or this conduct either impacts the performance of the individual (or is intended to do so) or creates offensive, hostile or intimidating work environment.
Conducts that might be considered violations of this policy cannot be all listed in this policy. Policy of the company strongly prohibits
- Sexually directed statements, jokes, offensive comments or descriptions
- Flirtations and/or unwanted advances of sexual character
- Lewd comments and remarks
- Requests involving sexual favors
- Unwanted approaches such as kisses, hugs, touches etc.
- Visual or audio production with offensive, derogatory or pornographic content
- Online access to resources with materials violating this policy, downloading or uploading them
- Threats or retaliation for sexual harassment complaints
It should be noted that main characteristics of sexual harassment is its unwanted and offensive nature of contact, and negative impact on work process, environment and performance. Actions presented in the list above are likely to violate corporate policy against sexual harassment, but they will not be considered violation if this is a welcome contact, and at the same time, less provocative actions can be deemed violation if the above-mentioned characteristics of harassment are present.
All employees, including executives, supervisors, managers, part-time employees and other categories of employees are expected to adhere to this policy, and should treat each other with courtesy and respect. Any interactions having a discriminatory nature will not be tolerated by the company, and disciplinary actions will be taken immediately. It is a responsibility of every employee to report sexual harassment, whether they believe to be a victim of sexual harassment or observe harassment conducts. It is necessary to remember that safe and harassment-free working environment is our common goal.
The company requests and strong encourages any employee who believes that he or she has become the subject of sexual harassment or witness of discriminative behaviour and/or unwanted conduct to make a complaint. The employee may contact any supervisor, department manager, human resources manager or Sexual Harassment Officer of our company. Written complaints are preferred, but verbal complaints are equally accepted.
The person interviewing the complainant should ask for specific details and context of harassment episodes, prepare chronology of conducts, analyze the effect of the conduct on the complainant and explain that the investigation will be done confidentially and the company protects complainants against any retaliation attempts.
Investigation of complaints
Investigation of sexual harassment complaints is the responsibility of Human Resources Department, and should be done promptly. Human Resources Department should investigate the complaint with maximal confidentiality; however, this does not guarantee total confidentiality of the investigation. All employees involved into investigation of sexual harassment complaint are expected to aid the investigation. Failure to do this might lead to disciplinary actions. Employees involved in investigation of a sexual harassment complaint should keep the information as confidential and only provide it in case it is necessary for the investigation.
The number of persons who have access to investigation data should be minimized. The investigator should keep in memory that the goal of the investigation is to gather facts. If there are several allegations, each of them should be treated and investigated separately.
If the investigation proves that harassment or other policy violations and/or unlawful discrimination took place, the company will immediately take corrective or disciplinary actions, up to and including such measures as transfer or dismissal.
Resolving the complaint
If the complaint can be remedied by corrective actions (e.g. when a transfer or change of working hours is suggested), it is necessary to ensure that the complainant is not placed into worse position compared to the previous one. Disciplinary actions regarding the harasser should be based on the severity, pervasiveness and frequency of unlawful conduct. Possible disciplinary actions include: warnings, reprimand, suspension, probation, transfer, demotion and discharge (EEOC, 1999).
The harasser should also be noted that repeated unlawful harassment will result in discharge. The situation should also be investigated with regard to providing training and counseling sessions devoted to sexual harassment issues.
Human Resource Department is responsible for documenting the complaint, investigation, imposed disciplinary actions and/or remedial steps. Human Resource Department should also interview all involved parties and inform the results of investigation and actions to them.
Any retaliation, reprisal or other adverse forms of actions against the employee who has filed or is about to file a sexual harassment complaint or takes part in the investigation of such complaint is prohibited by this policy. Any evidence of intimidation or retaliation related to harassment complaints should be immediately reported and will result in disciplinary actions.
The company does not tolerate any false accusations or unjustified statements regarding unlawful conduct. Such accusations might significantly impact the accessed subject and negatively influence corporate morale. If in the course of the investigation it is found out that an individual has made a false accusation against another individual, regardless of whether it was intentional or reckless statement, this individual will be subject to disciplinary actions, up to and including dismissal.
Business and Legal Reports. (2005). Sexual Harassment Essentials of Prevention and Response. Business and Legal Reports, Inc.
Cihon, P.J. & Castagnera, J.O. (2008). Employment & Labor Law. Cengage Learning.
EEOC. (1999). Enforcement Guidance on Vicarious Employer Liability for Unlawful Harassment by Supervisors. Available from http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/harassment.html
Orlov, D. & Roumell, M.T. (1999). What every manager needs to know about sexual harassment. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.