A sexual harassment policy is a document that prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. It defines and describes prohibited sexual behavior in the workplace, and contains information on how to report a complaint.
Sexual Harassment Policy Template:
Policy Brief and Purpose:
The [Company Name] sexual harassment policy aims to safeguard employees of all sexes and gender identities in our company from unwanted sexual advances, and provide them with guidelines to report incidents. It also explains how we handle complaints, take action against offenders, and help survivors to recover.
We will not accept sexual harassment in our workplace.
This policy applies to all [Company Name] employees.
[Company Name] will not tolerate sexual harassment from outside the company either. Customers, investors, contractors, and everyone interacting with our company are covered by this policy. Details of how we deal with harassment from outside our company is outlined in our third party harassment policy.
Sexual harassment definition:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature are defined as sexual harassment when:
- The offensive behavior creates an intimidating, abusive, or hostile work environment, or interferes with work performance.
- An employment decision regarding an employee is made because of their response to the offensive behavior (quid pro quo harassment).
Anybody can be a victim of sexual harassment, regardless of their sex or gender identity and that of the offending party.
Sexual harassment can involve one or more incidents that may be physical, verbal, or non-verbal, and includes:
- Commenting on somebody's appearance, sexual orientation, or gender in a derogatory or objectifying way, or in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
- Creating or posting sexually offensive materials in the workplace.
- Flirting at an inappropriate time, for instance in a team meeting, even if these advances would have been welcome in a different setting. These actions can damage a person's professional reputation, and expose them to further sexual harassment.
- Flirting with somebody or pursuing them persistently against their will.
- Using obscene comments, gestures, pranks, and jokes that degrade or offend somebody.
- Sending or displaying sexually explicit objects or messages.
- Invading somebody's personal space, for example by touching them inappropriately.
- Threatening, coercing, stalking, or intimidating somebody to pressure them to engage in sexual acts.
- Proposing, demanding, or insinuating sexual favors.
- Sexual assault.
If you believe that you are the target of sexual harassment, inform the offending party (except in cases of sexual assault) verbally or in writing that their conduct is offensive and needs to stop.
If you don't want to communicate with the offending party, or if your communication is ineffective, you need to report them.
Complaints can be lodged in writing with [Name of Person and Department] via email at [Email Address]. Your complaint will be documented and resolved within [ ] days. Complaints will be treated as confidential.
Both [Company Name] and federal law prohibit any form of retaliation against somebody claiming sexual harassment.
[Company Name] will:
- Record the dates, times, and circumstances of the incidents.
- Ensure that the complainant understands [Company Name] procedures for dealing with the complaint.
- Determine what outcome the complainant wants.
- Investigate the matter.
Based on the above, [Company Name] will further:
- Contact the offending party and set up a meeting to explain the complaint, and to ask them to stop this behavior.
- If the complainant agrees, arrange for mediation sessions with the complainant and the alleged perpetrator to resolve the issue.
Penalties for Sexual Harassment:
Employees who are found guilty of sexual harassment (excluding sexual assault, for which they will be dismissed) the first time may:
- Be demoted.
- Receive a written warning.
- Be suspended.
- Get a negative performance review.
- Be denied promotions and/or salary increases for [period].
- Be transferred to another department or branch if necessary.
We will dismiss repeat offenders after a second offense.
Support Structures for Survivors:
[Company Name] offers survivors of sexual harassment the following support structures:
- Guidance from our EAP (Employee Assistance Program) Officer to explore your options.
- Access to in-house counseling.
- Sick leave.
I have read, understood and agree to abide by this policy.
Signed: [Employee Name] Date: [ ]
What should a sexual harassment policy include?
- State that sexual harassment is illegal and will not be tolerated.
- Give definitions and examples of prohibited conduct.
- Highlight that people of all genders can be victims of harassment.
- Explain how sexual harassment needs to be reported.
- State that you will protect the confidentiality of complainants.
- Specify that complainants and those helping with the investigation will not be victimized.
- Outline that human resources and/or other relevant parties are required to respond appropriately to sexual harassment complaints.
- Explain the consequences of violating the harassment policy.
What are some tips for writing a sexual harassment policy?
- Ensure that sexual harassment complaints are investigated swiftly, exhaustively, and fairly.
- Allocate at least one person outside an employee's chain of command to report sexual harassment to.
- If possible, allow employees to report harassment to any manager.
- Ensure swift and effective action.
- If possible, notify complainants about the status of their complaints.
How do I implement my sexual harassment policy?
- Add your sexual harassment policy to your existing non-discrimination policy.
- Include it in the section that covers harassment in your existing employee handbook.
- Ask your employees to sign and date that they have reviewed the policy.
- Post it on a wall of an employee break room or main office area. This is mandatory in some states.
- Provide training to all employees on your policy.
- Ensure all your employees understand your policy.
Why is a sexual harassment policy and training important for my business?
The Me Too and Time’s Up movements have created awareness in recent times about sexual harassment. According to a 2017 CNBC study, around 20% of Americans have experienced sexual harassment at work.
Is sexual harassment in the workplace male against female only?
No. It is good to highlight in your policy and training that people of all sexes and gender identities can be victims of harassment.
What is quid pro quo harassment?
Quid pro quo is a type of harassment where an employee is promised something work-related, such as a better office, in exchange for sexual favors.
What is a hostile work environment?
In labor law, a hostile work environment exists when somebody's discriminatory behavior creates a work environment that is difficult or uncomfortable for others to work in.