SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
1. Sexual harassment on the job is any unwelcome sexually oriented behavior, demand, comment, or physical comment, initiated by an individual at the workplace, that is a term or condition of employment, that is a basis for employment decisions, or that interferes with the employee’s work or creates a hostile or offensive working environment.
2. Any demand or sexual inference connected with your job: verbal or nonverbal sexual innuendos, suggestive comments, threats, insults, jokes about specific traits, sexual propositions, suggestive or insulting noises, obscene gestures, physical body contact, or coercing of any sexual activity.
3. The above actions are in no way the exclusive means by which sexual harassment can occur. They are merely non-exhaustive examples of potentially prohibited conduct
ORGANIZATION PHILOSOPHY AND POLICY
• A comfortable working environment is your right by law. A safe and good working environment free from discrimination is a benefit to all.
• Sexual harassment of any kind violates the Civil Rights Act. We will not permit or ignore sexual harassment in the workplace.
• We are committed to providing a workplace free of sexual harassment in any form. Violations will not be tolerated and may result in disciplinary actions and possible termination of employment.
• All complaints will be quickly and thoroughly investigated in a confidential and non-biased manner regardless of whether it involves a co-worker or supervisor.
• We protect the rights of those individuals who bring and investigate sexual harassment complaints. We will also protect those individuals against any acts of retaliation if they pursue the complaint of sexual harassment.
• All complaints and the investigation thereof are to be kept strictly confidential.
• All complaints will be investigated fully without bias and prejudgment. Such an investigation will include interviews with both parties to the complaint, and coworkers and former employees who may have knowledge of the situation. An investigator will be appointed who will have access to all personnel files and will be granted all necessary access to information.
STEPS TO BE TAKEN BY SUPERVISORY PERSONNEL
• Interview the complainant and obtain specific information about exactly what occurred…the alleged perpetrator; the behavior or actions in question; and the date, time, location, and circumstances surrounding the actions. Obtain names of any witnesses, as well as any related evidence, including letters or records. Detailed notes should be taken during the interview, and copies should be made of all related evidence.
• Review any evidence that the complainant can provide: letters, performance records, photographs, changes in work assignments, transfers, wages and salary data, and the like.
• Interview all of the witnesses using the same line of questioning used with the complainant: namely, the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the matter.
• Interview other employees in the department or work area to obtain a more accurate picture of the range of the harassment and the extent to which the overall work atmosphere has been affected.
• Interview the harasser and provide him or her with an opportunity to explain or defend the actions in question, as well as present any evidence. There are essentially two defense options available to the accused harasser: either the incidents never occurred, or the actions in question were neither sexual harassment nor sex discrimination.
• Review all of the evidence in the light of the information presented by the complainant and the accused.
• Determine the validity of the complainant’s charges. This can be a final determination by the individual who conducted the investigation, or preliminary determination with final judgment to be made by top management.
• If the complainant’s accusations are judged valid and sexual harassment has in fact occurred, immediate and appropriate disciplinary action must be taken.
• If the claim is found to be valid, immediate steps are taken to make the complainant “whole”, that is, to provide him or her with any promotions, monetary increases, accurate ratings, or benefits that might have been lost as a result of the harassment.
• It is important that employees are advised of their right to appeal the decision. An outside consultant shall then review all the evidence and rule on an appeal. The appeal should be carried out as expeditiously as possible. HSLI consultants shall serve as the outside consultant in the event of an appeal.
• Communicate the policy to all employees by including it in the personnel policy manual, posting it on bulletin boards, and displaying in all departments.
• Give examples of sexual harassment and underscore the discipline associated with such behavior.
• Provide training to all supervisory personnel regarding sexual harassment and how they are to respond.
• Define the following terms: unreasonable conduct, discrimination, harassment, hostile environment, quid pro quo sexual harassment, and unwelcome behavior.
• Develop an efficient procedure for filing and investigating complaints that maintains the confidentiality of the accuser and the accused.
• Inform employees that the hospital will not tolerate frivolous complaints.
• Guarantee, in writing, that there will be no retaliation against anyone who files a legitimate complaint.
• Provide visible top management support by having a member of top management come to every training session to articulate the hospital’s commitment to eliminating sexual harassment from the workplace.
• Inform supervisors of their responsibility to help create a workplace free of sexual harassment.
• Enforce policies uniformly.
STEPS FOR ELIMINATING SEXUAL HARASSMENT
• Affirmatively raise the subject of sexual harassment.
• Express strong disapproval.
• Develop appropriate sanctions.
• Inform employees of their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to raise the issue of sexual harassment and explain the procedure.
• Develop methods to sensitize all concerned.
Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964 / 1991
Lloyd, Kenneth. Special Report-How to Keep Your Company Out of court. Panel Publications, Inc. 1992.
Kinard, Jerry L. et al. Sexual Harassment in the Hospital Industry, An Empirical Inquiry. Health Care management Review, Vol. 20:1, Aspen Publishers, Inc., 1995.
HSLI Risk Management Consultants. Sexual Harassment in Healthcare. Presentation and video. 3/20/2001.