facebook google plus twitter
Webucator's Free Sexual Harassment Awareness Tutorial

Lesson: Rights and Responsibilities

Welcome to our free Sexual Harassment Awareness tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Sexual Harassment Awareness for Employees and Managers course.

In the previous lessons, you learned about harassment laws, how to identify harassment, how to report it, and what to do about retaliation. This lesson ties all of these topics together so employees and managers know their rights that protect them against harassment, and their responsibilities to other employees.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn how to describe employee rights related to harassment in the workplace.
  • Learn how to describe employee responsibilities to other employees related to harassment in the workplace.

Summary of Employee Rights

Employees of any company have rights associated with harassment. The following list offers details regarding general and specific employee rights.

  1. All employees have the right to work in a safe, respectful, harassment free environment.
  2. Employees have the right to ask questions or voice concerns if they believe they or someone they know is being harassed. The questions and concerns should be given serious consideration and be kept confidential.
  3. Employees have the right to make personal decisions without being pressured, blackmailed or coerced by a supervisor. Quid pro quo is illegal. A supervisor cannot punish an employee for refusing sexual advances.
  4. Employees have the right to work in a non-hostile work environment. This means that employees are not bullied, threatened, mocked, insulted, belittled, or treated in an offensive manner by a single person or a group.
  5. Employees have the right to report any harassing behavior whether they are the victim or a witness. After reporting harassment they have the right to expect swift action to remedy the issue.
  6. Employees have the right to report harassment without the fear of retaliation. Employees are protected from any backlash or additional harassment as a result of filing a complaint.
  7. Employees have the right to escalate a harassment complaint by contacting the EEOC or filing a lawsuit if their case is not addressed in an appropriate or timely manner.

These rights give a general summary of employee rights but they are not all inclusive. If unsure, remember to voice any concerns or questions with a supervisor or the human resources department.

Understanding Employee Rights

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes.

In this exercise, you will demonstrate your knowledge of employee rights.

Think about the following scenarios and provide an explanation for each scenario on how the employee's rights have been violated in each scenario.

  1. A coworker constantly makes offensive and belittling comments towards the two men in her department.
  2. A supervisor pressured his employee to have sex with him. The employee felt trapped because her boss hinted that her job was on the line and thought the easiest thing was to go ahead and sleep with him. Weeks later she feels violated and embarrassed. Can she still file a complaint even though she allowed it to happen?
  3. An employee reported a harassment incident involving his boss. The issue was resolved through mediation but now the supervisor gives all of the undesirable projects to this employee and the other five members of the team get better opportunities.
  4. An employee reported sexual harassment and asked that the complaint be kept confidential. A day later the employee was confronted by the accused harasser and her coworkers telling her that she better drop the complaint.
  5. An employee had a relationship with her supervisor for a year but recently ended it. The supervisor does not want to end the relationship and continually asks the woman out.

Summary of Responsibilities

Legal and moral responsibilities exist for both employers and employees regarding harassment. The following information supplies detailed information on the responsibilities of each.

Employer Liability

  1. Employers are liable for employee safety from harassment. The company must take reasonable care to prevent and reasonable care to quickly stop harassment.
  2. Employers are strongly encouraged to create a clear and effective grievance process and communicate harassment policies with all employees. Many companies require annual harassment training and signed acknowledgement of company harassment policies.
  3. Employers should create an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about concerns or questions. Employees should feel confident that they will be heard and that personal matters will be kept confidential.
  4. Employers must promptly investigate and correct acts of harassment. If employees do not trust the company to properly address incidents, they may simply contact the EEOC or file a lawsuit.
  5. Employers must protect employees from retaliation if someone comes forward to report harassment. An employee that has no faith in a company's ability to protect them after filing a complaint will suffer in silence, leave the company, or worse.

Employee Responsibilities

  1. Employees are responsible for treating each other with respect. Whether the employee is entry-level or the CEO, male or female, everyone follows the same rules and no one is allowed to harass another person or group.
  2. Employees are responsible for listening and adhering to another employee's reasonable request to stop a behavior. By ceasing the unwanted behavior immediately there is no need for escalation or negative consequences.
  3. Employees are not allowed to retaliate or treat other employees poorly for reporting harassment no matter what the situation may be. If an employee disagrees with the accusation and has proof they can meet with the representative managing the investigation. Under no circumstances do they address the victim or alter the workplace environment in any way.
  4. Employees must also help protect their fellow employee. If someone witnesses or is aware of any harassment behavior they must report it and help the victim or victims. Keeping quiet makes the individual an accomplice to the act.

Employees and Employers both have equally important responsibilities in creating and keeping a safe, harassment-free workplace. Understanding process rules helps prevent harassment and helps correct incidents quickly and effectively.

Summary of Responsibilities

Legal and moral responsibilities exist for both employers and employees regarding harassment. The following information supplies detailed information on the responsibilities of each.

Employer Liability

  1. Employers are liable for employee safety from harassment. The company must take reasonable care to prevent and reasonable care to quickly stop harassment.
  2. Employers are strongly encouraged to create a clear and effective grievance process and communicate harassment policies with all employees. Many companies require annual harassment training and signed acknowledgement of company harassment policies.
  3. Employers should create an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about concerns or questions. Employees should feel confident that they will be heard and that personal matters will be kept confidential.
  4. Employers must promptly investigate and correct acts of harassment. If employees do not trust the company to properly address incidents, they may simply contact the EEOC or file a lawsuit.
  5. Employers must protect employees from retaliation if someone comes forward to report harassment. An employee that has no faith in a company's ability to protect them after filing a complaint will suffer in silence, leave the company, or worse.

Employee Responsibilities

  1. Employees are responsible for treating each other with respect. Whether the employee is entry-level or the CEO, male or female, everyone follows the same rules and no one is allowed to harass another person or group.
  2. Employees are responsible for listening and adhering to another employee's reasonable request to stop a behavior. By ceasing the unwanted behavior immediately there is no need for escalation or negative consequences.
  3. Employees are not allowed to retaliate or treat other employees poorly for reporting harassment no matter what the situation may be. If an employee disagrees with the accusation and has proof they can meet with the representative managing the investigation. Under no circumstances do they address the victim or alter the workplace environment in any way.
  4. Employees must also help protect their fellow employee. If someone witnesses or is aware of any harassment behavior they must report it and help the victim or victims. Keeping quiet makes the individual an accomplice to the act.

Employees and Employers both have equally important responsibilities in creating and keeping a safe, harassment-free workplace. Understanding process rules helps prevent harassment and helps correct incidents quickly and effectively.

Employee and Employer Responsibilities

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes.

In this exercise, you will demonstrate your knowledge about what the responsibilities of both employers and employees.

Think about the following scenarios and decide what should be done according to what you have learned about employer and employee responsibilities.

  1. A manager of a different department likes an employee. She does not directly supervise him and believes he might be interested in her. Can she ask him out?
  2. A coworker sees his supervisor constantly brush against his assistant and stare inappropriately. The coworker has not witnessed the assistant being upset by any of the behavior but it is uncomfortable to watch. What should he do?
  3. An employee brings a lingerie magazine to work every week. The guys all look through it and make crude comments on their break. The women try to ignore it. The supervisor witnesses this behavior but doesn't want to scold anyone for what they do on their break time. What should he do?
  4. An employee feels that he is being harassed but his company does not have a policy in place for handling harassment. What should be done?
  5. An employee files a harassment complaint and begins getting hate mail left on her desk. What should be done?
  6. A witness files a harassment complaint on behalf of a victim. A month goes by and she continues to see the same behavior and has not heard anything about the status of her complaint. After inquiring, the company tells her they are working on it and to be patient. What should be done?