Welcome to our free Sexual Harassment Awareness tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Sexual Harassment Awareness for Employees and Managers course.
It is best to prevent harassment from ever taking place by educating employees and managers. However, even companies with proactive initiatives and training programs cannot prevent everything. Therefore, it is essential that companies have effective processes in place for reporting harassment and for asking questions.
Harassment is illegal and the employer is liable, but the employer must be notified of the behavior. It is crucial that the act be reported. Most companies have a complaint or grievance process. If a process is unknown or does not exist, contacting a member of the human resources department or a supervisor is good option.
If you are a victim of harassment, follow these steps:
Approach the person directly and explain that their behavior is unacceptable. In certain situations, direct conversation is not easy. Writing a letter or email is perfectly acceptable. Make sure to keep a copy.
Write down any details about a harassment incident. Include the following information for each incident:
Report the incident, or incidents, to a supervisor or the company's human resources department immediately. Keep a record of any report you give. A formal complaint or grievance should be created by a member of the company's human resources department by gathering details from the victim. The company should then conduct an investigation.
The desired result after confronting the harasser and reporting it to the employer is that the harassment ends. If the behavior continues, or in situations where the harassment was severe, the victim may need to pursue further action.
If you are a witness to harassment, follow these steps:
The first step is to help the victim in any way possible. Some individuals who witness harassment taking place may step in and try to stop it immediately. This is not always possible, nor expected. The most important thing is to help the victim by teaching them the steps of reporting harassment and making sure they get help from a supervisor or the company's human resources department.
Help the victim through the appropriate steps:
Even after telling the victim what actions to take, it is important to report the incident yourself in case the victim does not. This places the liability on the company and ensures that you have assisted the victim in every possible way.
If you are a supervisor and an employee comes to you to report harassment, follow these steps:
Explain that he or she is in a safe environment to discuss these issues and thank them for coming forward. It can be scary and sometimes embarrassing reporting harassment. It is also very important that the victim know they are safe and will be protected from any backlash from the accused harasser or others in the company.
Also, maintain confidentiality and do not speak of the incident to others besides the human resources department.
Listen and take detailed notes regarding the harassment. Ask the victim if they have confronted their harasser yet and if they have kept any records of the incidents.
Depending on your company policy, either involve the human resources department or create the formal complaint yourself.
The formal complaint or grievance process includes interviewing:
Again, maintaining the victim's confidentiality is extremely important. The ultimate goals of the complaint process are:
After the company has performed an investigation, make sure a suitable resolution was reached for your employee.
In this exercise, you will demonstrate your understanding on how to take action when potential sexual harassment occurs.
A grievance, or formal complaint, is a document filed with the victim's company or union. This document outlines relevant facts given by the victim detailing the harassment incident or incidents, including:
The grievance is official notification so that the company is aware of the harassment and is now liable to take action to remedy the situation. No legal action has taken place at this point, but everything is clearly documented in case the situation requires a trial.
During the grievance process, a representative of the company gathers information from all parties involved and performs a thorough investigation to determine whether harassment took place and how best to resolve the issue. If additional actions are needed, the next step is mediation.
In this exercise, you will demonstrate your knowledge of grievances.
Answer the following questions:
Sexual harassment claims can be very costly when they involve lawyers and court fees. Other, nonmonetary costs are involved as well.
Often a private situation that goes through litigation becomes an ugly, public affair of taking sides and pointing fingers. Mediation is an alternative to litigation that often is a preferable route for all parties. Mediation is not always successful, but there are many benefits when it works.
There are two main mediation models:
The goal of this model is to work together to find a solution and maintain relationships.
The involved parties each take turns telling their story to the mediator. The disputants do not talk to each other. The mediator identifies the issues and prepares the group for a productive discussion. In some situations, the victim and accused harasser may not be in the same room during this phase. Instead, the mediator may speak to each party separately.
The disputants face each other and listen to each other as each side explains their viewpoint. Then they respond to each other to show a level of understanding. The mediator rarely speaks during this phase. The victim and accused harasser both take turns telling their story and listening to the other's story. Each explains how they feel regarding the situation. The response section of this phase is extremely important and proves to the mediator that each party is able to rise above their own needs to move towards common ground.
In this phase, the mediator helps the disputants recognize a common ground and understanding between one another. The mediator gently nudges the two parties but for the most part the conversation is still focused on communication between the disputants to reach an understanding of one another.
In the final phase, the disputants find and agree on a resolution that benefits both parties. The mediator does not make suggestions or dictate the conversation in any way. This resolution must come from the disputants.
The goal of this model is to find an agreeable resolution so legal action is not needed. Situations that require this type of mediation are often intentional harassment cases where the victim and accused harasser cannot have a calm, productive conversation.
In the Settlement Conference Model, the mediator is a negotiator that listens to both parties as a group and separately to gather details and evidence. The mediator then presents possible settlement scenarios to the involved parties. The mediator remains in the middle and makes changes to the settlement until both parties agree on a solution.
Whether using the Four-Phase Model or the Settlement Conference Model, mediation can meet the needs of both parties and the employer. It is less expensive, provides confidentiality, avoids negative impacts on careers, and allows both sides to decide the outcome.
In this exercise, you will demonstrate your knowledge of mediation.
Answer the following questions:
If mediation is unsuccessful, the next step is litigation. Prior to filing a lawsuit, a formal complaint must be filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or a state government agency.
There are certain time restrictions when filing a complaint with the EEOC. If the grievance and mediation processes are taking too long and not producing results, the victim may need to file a complaint with the EEOC prior to completing the previous processes. Keep the following time frames in mind:
Once the EEOC has received the formal complaint they must complete an investigation within 180 days from the date they received the complaint. The investigation goal is to determine whether the harassment is severe or pervasive to the point that it is illegal. Hearings may take place if needed and ultimately the agency issues a final decision. Depending on this decision, legal actions may take place and the victim may decide to sue the company.
In this exercise, you will demonstrate your knowledge of EEOC.
Answer the following questions: