What should you include in an anti-harassment policy?

Harassment is a real concern for many employers. Allowing it to go unchecked could lead to lawsuits, complaints and the loss of good employees. To help make it clear that you will not allow harassment in the workplace, it's important that you establish a written policy that details what is not acceptable.

You should include several sections in your anti-harassment policy. You will want to specifically discuss:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Retaliation

Equal employment opportunity rights

  • A definition of harassment and how it will be identified
  • The individuals and conduct that will be covered under the policy
  • How harassing conduct should be reported
  • The complaint procedure

For example, you might start with a definition of harassment. Harassment may include verbal, physical and/or written conduct of a prohibited nature. Conduct that shows hostility, denigrates others, or shows an aversion toward another employee, a client, a supervisor or other party is not allowed.

You may want to include the effects of harassment that you will look for, such as making the workplace hostile or intimidating, creating an offensive workspace, or interfering with the work of others.

You should make sure that the policy details who is protected. Remember, this policy should apply to employees, outside vendors, consultants, customers and others who interact with your business.

Give employees (or others) a way to report incidents

Don't forget to create a complaint procedure, so that you find out about complaints before someone turns to the law for help. If a complaint comes up, you, as an employer, have the responsibility of addressing it.

Let your employees know how you expect them to handle complaints. Direct complaints to a single human resources department or a supervisor, for example. Additionally, make sure that they know that they should report incidents as soon as they occur.

Harassment doesn't have a place in your workplace, and it's up to you to make it clear to your employees that it will not be tolerated.

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