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Sexual Harassment Prevention For Supervisors


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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.

Published in: Education, Business
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Sexual Harassment Prevention For Supervisors

  1. 1. Supervisory/Management Training XYZ Company January, 2009
  2. 2.  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: • Age • Race • Religion • National origin • Gender • Sexual orientation • Disability
  3. 3. “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 environment.” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Civil Rights Act, Title VII, 1964.
  4. 4.  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 responsibility.  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.
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. 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.
  7. 7. 1. Supervisor/Manager/Agent to Employee 2. Employee to Employee 3. Employee to Outside Public, Customers, Contractors, etc.
  8. 8.  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 offensive behavior.  Supervisors/Managers: Have a unique role to: a) prevent and, b) address sexual harassment – both for individual incidents and in the work environment.
  9. 9.  Harassing behavior can be verbal, non-verbal, or physical.  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.
  10. 10.  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.
  11. 11.  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..?
  12. 12. 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.
  13. 13.  The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.  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.
  14. 14.  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
  15. 15.  In judging whether an incident, behavior or environment is sexual harassment, it should be viewed from the perspective of a typical, reasonable third party.  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.
  16. 16.  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 work environment?
  17. 17.  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
  18. 18.  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
  19. 19.  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.
  20. 20.  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.
  21. 21. 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 going on.” 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..?
  22. 22.  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.
  23. 23. 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?
  24. 24. • 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?
  25. 25.  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. (508) 822-2151