A professional training seminar for supervisors and managers to assist them in recognizing potential sexual harassment in the workplace, hostile environments and how to address this behavior in
A professional training seminar for supervisors and managers to assist them in recognizing potential sexual harassment in the workplace, hostile environments and how to address this behavior in employees.
Harassment in the workplace occurs when an individual
or group of people is treated inappropriately because of
their membership (or perceived membership) in one or
more protected groups. The following are examples of
groups protected under Federal and Massachusetts laws:
• National origin
• Sexual orientation
“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual
favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual
nature constitute sexual harassment when submission
to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly
affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably
interferes with an individual’s work performance or
creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Civil Rights Act, Title VII, 1964.
Sexual harassment is wrong……and illegal.
What a co-worker, supervisor, or recognized
third party does while doing business for or
with the employer becomes the employer’s
An employer can also be held responsible for
the inaction of its agents and supervisory
employees if he/she is aware that a specific
act has occurred or of a hostile environment.
1. Quid Pro Quo (this for that) :
When a supervisor, manager, agent, or
other employee in a superior role makes
or promises an employment benefit or
continuing employment depend on
another employee’s acceptance of
unwelcome sexual behavior.
2. Hostile Environment:
No specific employment benefit(s) need be lost
or gained. Hostile work environment sexual
harassment exists if conduct of an offensive
sexual nature has the purpose or effect of
unreasonably interfering with an employee’s
work performance or creating an intimidating,
hostile or offensive environment.
1. Supervisor/Manager/Agent to Employee
2. Employee to Employee
3. Employee to Outside Public, Customers,
Harasser: Can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of
the employer, a supervisor in another area, a
coworker, or non-employee.
Victim: Recipient of the unwanted attention,
advance, etc. The victim doesn’t have to be the
person harassed but could be anyone affected by the
Supervisors/Managers: Have a unique role to:
a) prevent and, b) address sexual harassment – both
for individual incidents and in the work environment.
Harassing behavior can be verbal, non-verbal, or
What is “offensive” is in the eye of the beholder or
the recipient of the behavior. What is NOT offensive
to one person may be offensive to another, despite
the intent of the alleged offender.
Sexual harassment may include preferential
treatment to a consenting partner which is
unrelated to work performance.
Sexual harassment may occur without economic
injury to or discharge of the victim.
Statements such as “I didn’t mean anything by it” or
“I was just joking” or “He/she can’t take a joke” are
neither excuses or defenses. Under the law, actual
intent is irrelevant. What is relevant is the impact of
the behavior on the recipient.
The victim has a responsibility to establish that the
harasser’s conduct is unwelcome.
There is a reasonable person standard.
Unwelcome sexual advances with physical touching..?
Sexual advances without physical touching..?
Sexual epithets, jokes, references to sexual conduct..?
Displaying suggestive objects, pictures, items..?
Leering, whistling, brushing up against, gesturing..?
Inquiring about or making comments about other’s
sexual activity or experiences..?
Sexual favoritism occurs when a manager,
supervisor, or co-worker rewards only those
employees (or others) who submit to sexual
advances or willingly participate in a hostile
environment. Individuals who are denied
rewards (raises, promotions, better working
conditions, etc.) can claim that they have been
penalized by the sexual attention directed at
the favored individuals.
The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman
or a man. The victim does not have to be of the
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an
agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area,
a co-worker, or a non-employee.
The victim does not have to be the intended focus
of the behavior, rather could be anyone affected by
the offensive conduct.
The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
It is your professional responsibility to keep
the workplace harassment free
A zero tolerance for all unprofessional
conduct, particularly sexual harassment
It is your obligation to address all suspected
unprofessional conduct and report sexual
harassment to appropriate management
In judging whether an incident, behavior or
environment is sexual harassment, it should be
viewed from the perspective of a typical, reasonable
Would a reasonable person find that behavior
hostile, offensive, or intimidating and adversely
affect his/her ability to do his/her work?
The “reasonable person standard” is the legal
criteria used by the courts to judge whether the
conduct was sexual harassment.
Was the behavior or innuendo sexual in nature?
Was the behavior unwelcome?
Have sexual favors been demanded, requested,
or suggested - especially as a condition of
employment or career and job success?
Does the behavior create a hostile or offensive
Prevention is the best defense.
Take steps necessary to prevent sexual
harassment from occurring, by:
• Developing a policy (if non-existent)
• Establishing a meaningful complaint procedure
• Designating & training case handlers
• Make the policy known to all
• Enforce the policy equally
• Provide counseling/discipline where appropriate
Essential to address directly and reject
• Recipient : Clearly communicate to harasser
Report improper conduct as appropriate
• What is improper? (Reasonable person standard)
Employer must thoroughly investigate
• All complaints merit an initial investigation
Employer takes corrective action indicated
• Harasser: Discipline as appropriate
• Recipient/ Victim: Corrective action/No retaliation
Confidentiality: All information should be
handled with sensitivity and shared only with
those individuals involved in the investigation
or who have a need to know.
Non-Retaliation: Retaliation against
individuals who in good faith raise concerns
about alleged sexual harassment is strictly
prohibited by law.
Thoroughly & promptly investigate all complaints
• Interview the victim
• Interview the alleged harasser
• Interview any others with pertinent knowledge
• Document interview findings
Safeguard employee confidentiality
Be responsive to complainants
Take effective corrective action
• Includes sufficient employee sanctions to be a deterrent.
An employee reports harassment to his/her supervisor
and says, “I don’t want you to do anything about this.
I just want you to listen to me and be aware of what’s
How should the supervisor respond?
Can a supervisor promise to “just listen and be aware..?”
Once a supervisor receives a report of harassment don’t they
have an obligation to take action..?
In fact, a supervisor has the responsibility to
ensure the integrity of the workplace.
A supervisor must exercise reasonable care to
first prevent and secondly, to promptly correct
any sexual harassment they know about, so this
would involve at minimum:
1) an initial review of the information given;
and if credible,
2) a more formal investigation of the charge.
A technician is contracted to maintain the office
copy machine. Each time the technician makes a
service call the technician tells a dirty joke.
Some employees can’t wait for the machine to
break down, just so they can gather round and hear
the latest joke.
Even though no employees have complained,
what is the supervisor’s responsibility?
• Should the supervisor just direct the employees
back to work?
• Since the technician is not an employee, does the
supervisor have the authority to tell the technician
to stop telling dirty jokes?
• Under what circumstances should the supervisor
contact the service company holding the copier
contract, report the technician’s behavior, and
request prompt corrective action?
If you have supervisory concerns, questions
about how to approach employees, etc.
Don’t forget your Employee Assistance
Program is only a phone call away.
Counselors are usually available by phone;
appointments at our nearby office in Taunton
(2007 Bay Street) are easy to arrange.