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Submitted by WillDuke on


I manage a small business and I don't have a sample policy to share. but if nobody posts anything, I'll start searching the Internet.

Before I do that, does anyone have anything they want to share?

Many thanks in advance.

terrih's picture

I know our new HR director would like to revise our employee handbook, but I don't know that the sexual harrassment section is part of that planned revision. But here it is as it stands for now, FWIW.

"[Company] is committed to providing a work environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and conduct that can be considered harassing, coercive, or disruptive, including sexual harassment. Actions, words, jokes, or comments based on an individual’s sex, race, color, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristic will not be tolerated. [Company] provides ongoing sexual harassment training to ensure you the opportunity to work in an environment free of sexual and other unlawful harassment.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser. The following is a partial list of sexual harassment examples:
• Unwelcome sexual advances.
• Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors.
• Making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances.
• Visual conduct that includes leering, making sexual gestures, or displaying of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters.
• Verbal conduct that includes making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes.
• Verbal sexual advances or propositions.
• Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, or suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations.
• Physical conduct that includes touching, assaulting, or impeding or blocking movements.
Unwelcome sexual advances (either verbal or physical), requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; (2) submission or rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for making employment decisions; or, (3) the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
If you experience or witness sexual or other unlawful harassment in the workplace, report it immediately to your supervisor. If the supervisor is unavailable or you believe it would be inappropriate to contact that person, you should immediately contact the Human Resources Director or any other member of management. You can raise concerns and make reports without fear of reprisal or retaliation.
All allegations of sexual harassment will be quickly and discreetly investigated. To the extent possible, your confidentiality and that of any witnesses and the alleged harasser will be protected against unnecessary disclosure. When the investigation is completed, you will be informed of the outcome of the investigation.
Any supervisor or manager who becomes aware of possible sexual or other unlawful harassment must immediately advise the Human Resources Director or any member of management so it can be investigated in a timely and confidential manner. Anyone engaging in sexual or other unlawful harassment will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment."

cwatine's picture
Training Badge

I have not been confronted to that yet ... But what I read above seems very wise.

As a side note, my family and I had some days off a few weeks ago in a club in Turkey. We let our youngest daughter at a mini club for a good part of each day. I had a chat with the girls who were taking care of the children. The girls were coming from Israel, Italy and Belgium. They had had a collegue from the USA a few weeks before. And when he was given feedback about the fact he was acting very "cold and distant" with the children, he answered that it was because he did not want to have problems with the justice ... They had exactly the same case with a collegue from Canada.

This week end, we were visiting some English friends and they explained to us that the rules in the horse club were they have their children have recently been changed and the adults have not the right to carry children in their arms, or to stay alone in the room with one child, or to have a child on their knees...

I find this very strange. Sometimes I am afraid that all of this has gone too far.

What seems important is respecting the country and culture where you have to establish those rules.

TomW's picture
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[quote="terrih"]"[Company] is committed to providing a work environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and conduct [b]that can be considered[/b] [/quote]

I'm surprised at the "can be considered" phrase. It seems like that is a little subjective. Is that just me?

terrih's picture

Yes, that's not the only thing that looks subjective to me here... wouldn't be surprised if our HR dept DOES rewrite this when they get a chance.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

All of it is completely subjective, folks. Be very careful of trying to write an ironclad policy...lawyers LOVE them.

Lawyers on BOTH sides of the court case. The key is manager standards and behaviors, and feedback.

Thanks for posting, though...makes it easy to talk about all this stuff.


acao162's picture

Here is ours. Hope it is helpful. The policy is pretty long, but it is a serious topic

{Company} is committed to a healthy harassment-free work environment of all our employees.

Harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to abusive and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct because of age, physical characteristics, pregnancy, political belief, race, religious beliefs, color, place of origin, gender, mental or physical disability, ancestry, marital status, family status, source of income or sexual orientation.

It includes action (i.e. touching, pushing) comments (jokes, name calling) or displays (posters, cartoons). Uninvited sexual advances, unwanted requests for sexual favors, and other unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term of, or condition of, an individual’s employment; or

2. Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual affects that individual’s employment; or

3. Such conduct might reasonably be expected to cause insecurity, discomfort, offence or humiliation to another person or group; or

4. Such conduct has the purpose or the effect of interfering with a person’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment can include such things as pinching, patting, rubbing or leering, “dirty” jokes, pictures or pornographic materials, comments, suggestions, innuendoes, requests or demands of a sexual nature. The behavior need not be intentional in order to be considered sexual harassment.

If you are being harassed:

1. Tell the harasser his/her behavior is unwelcome and ask him/her to stop

2. Keep record of incidents (date, time, location, possible witnesses, what happened, your response). You do not have to have a record of events in order to file a complaint.
3. File a complaint. If after asking the harasser to stop, the behavior continues report the problem to one of the following individuals:
a) Immediate supervisor
b) {CEO}
c) {Board Chair, Vice Chair}

4. Once a complaint is received, it will be kept strictly confidential. An investigation will be undertaken immediately and all necessary steps taken to resolve the problem.
5. Both the complainant and the alleged harasser will be interviewed (by the Board Chair and CEO or the Board Chair & Vice Chair, depending on the circumstances), as well any individuals who may be able to provide relevant information. All information will be kept in confidence.

6. If the investigation reveals evidence to support the complaint of harassment, the harasser will be disciplined appropriately. Discipline may include suspension or dismissal, and the incident will be documented in the harasser’s file. No documentation will be placed in the complainant’s file where the complaint is filed in good faith, whether the complaint is upheld or not.

7. If the investigation fails to find evidence to support the complaint, there will be no documentation concerning the complaint placed in the file of the alleged harasser.

8. Regardless of the outcome of a harassment complaint made in good faith, the employee lodging the complaint, as well as anyone providing information will be protected from any form of retaliation by either co-workers or superiors. This includes dismissal, demotion, unwanted transfer, and denial of opportunities within the company or harassment of an individual as a result of his/her having made a complaint or having provided evidence regarding the complaint.

smholland10's picture

This is an extract from the employee/temporary staff handbook for my current assignment.

Harassment, a form of discrimination, is any uninvited, unwelcome behaviour that offends, humiliates or intimidates another person and/or makes the workplace uncomfortable and hostile. Intent is irrelevant; it is the outcome of the action (that is, the way the victim perceives the behaviour) that defines whether harassment took place. It is unlawful to harass a person on the same grounds as those listed for discrimination.

Mutual attraction between two people who welcome each other's attention is not sexual harassment. [Company] is concerned with behaviour that affects the workplace, not the private lives of employees and temporary contractors.

[b]Sexual Harassment[/b]
Sexual harassment is any unwanted and unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature. It might be one incident or a number of incidents. If the action is of a sexual nature and one of the people involved finds it offensive, it constitutes sexual harassment. Both men and women can be subjected to sexual harassment from a person of either the same or the opposite sex.

Examples of sexual harassment are:
• unwelcome comments about a person's sexuality or physical appearance
• sexually oriented jokes, innuendo or verbal abuse
• non-verbal acts like leering or ogling
• persistent unwelcome social invitations or telephone calls at work or at home
• offensive screen savers, emails, or computer material of a sexual nature
• inappropriate use of the Internet
• using internal or Internet email to distribute or forward offensive materials
• obscene telephone calls, photographs, reading matter, or objects
• pressure for sexual favours through implied or overt promises of preferential treatment or threats about a person's employment status
• physical contact at work such as patting, pinching or touching, hugging, putting an arm around or brushing against another person's body
• stalking, sexual assault, and rape (these are criminal offences and should be reported to the police)

[b]Customer/Employee Interaction[/b]
This policy also covers interaction between customers and employees/temporary contractors. Managers are to ensure that customers treat [Company] employees and temporary contracts with courtesy and respect. Equally, it is unlawful for an employee or temporary contractor to discriminate against, harass or sexually harass a customer or any other person during the course of their work or when acting as a representative of [Company], or for employees or temporary contractors to request sexual favours from a customer in return for favourable decisions or conditions of finance.

vinnie2k's picture


XXX companies based in the U. S. have a policy of maintaining a working environment free from discrimination in any form, including discrimination based on age, race, religion, ethnic origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, or sex. It is prudent to comment specifically on sexual harassment, as well as to make clear the method for resolving any claim of such harassment.


Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of law, the Company’s Code of Ethics, and of this Policy. Conduct constituting sexual harassment is prohibited. Participating in conduct constituting sexual harassment is a violation of this Policy and will be grounds for stern disciplinary action — up to, and including, termination of employment, or in the case of customers or suppliers, curtailment of the relationship.

Sexual harassment has been defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. This conduct, whether committed by supervisors, co-workers, customers, or suppliers, may include but is not limited to, offensive sexual flirtations, advances, propositions, or verbal abuse of a sexual nature; graphic verbal comments about an individual’s body; sexually degrading words used to describe or humiliate an individual; unwelcome touching or physical contact; or the display in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects, signs, posters, or pictures.


A. The Company has established a procedure for any employee to follow if he/she believes he/she has been subjected to sexual harassment.
1. The individual should report the nature and circumstances of the sexual harassment immediately to his/her supervisor. The supervisor investigates and resolves the matter promptly and notifies the location’s Affirmative Action officer or Human Resources manager.
2. If the employee believes that this first step is not appropriate, the employee should immediately report the circumstances to the location’s Affirmative Action officer or Human Resources manager.
3. If at any time an employee feels he/she needs to contact someone off-site, he/she should contact the Human Resources Department within the business group. If this is not appropriate, he/she should contact the Corporate Vice President - Human Resources.
4. A prompt confidential investigation of the complaint is initiated by one of the managerial individuals contacted.
5. A report regarding resolution of the complaint is made to the person initiating the complaint.

B. There will be no retaliation against any employee who brings forth a complaint of sexual harassment or who cooperates in the investigation of such a complaint. The Company will make all reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality of the investigation and complaint resolution. Any employee who participates in retaliatory actions toward an employee who files a harassment complaint or toward anyone who cooperates in an investigation of such a complaint will be subject to stern disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

C. The process for appealing the resolution of a complaint or an allegation of retaliatory action should be covered under the location’s normal procedures or union contract. However, if the complaining employee is not satisfied with the results at the local level, he/she may appeal the complaint resolution, the determination of retaliation, and all other decisions related to a sexual harassment complaint directly to the Human Resources Department of the individual’s specific business group or, ultimately, to the Corporate Vice President - Human Resources Department.


Executive Vice President
General Counsel

Training on the issue of sexual harassment is available through the Corporate Human Resources Department for both supervisors and employees.

thaGUma's picture

Cedwat, your experience with UK parents is common. We are extremely sensitive when it comes to children (unfortunately it is more to do with media reporting than actual concern). I occasionally feel that I am restricted in dealing with children in case there is a 'perceived' problem. Not good. On the positive side this can apply to dealing with people in general.

When you feel uncomfortable or think you are moving from business to personal paradigms, then think how someone outside could view your actions.

Unfortunately you need to be conservative.

JohnGMacAskill's picture
Training Badge

[quote="donnachie"]Unfortunately you need to be conservative.[/quote]

Spot on. I recently sent a 'barbed' joking email-not sexual BTY-to a colleague that if done verbally, with tone and eye contact, [i]possibly[/i] would not have resulted in insult. This person took this email in a way that I never intended or would have expected...however. You do not own the reaction, the other person does and you have to respect that.

If the other person takes an offense, you have made an offense.

[quote="donnachie"]When you feel uncomfortable or think you are moving from business to personal paradigms, then think how someone outside could view your actions. [/quote]

Very good advice. I think if you act and behave professionally, in most cases you will be acting appropriately.

Fantastically interesting podcast guys, and actually very useful re all types of inappropriate behaviour.

tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

I'm busily catching up on my podcasts. (I took a week's vacation, and got behind.)

Our HR manager feels that this policy is rather dated (it was written in May of 1993, and the organization has changed quite a bit) but it's not at the top of her list of things to address.

Sadly, I know personally that it is still in force, and sortof works. It turns out that we can't prevent people from bringing their lawyer to meetings.


The Space Telescope Science Institute is committed to maintaining a work environment that is free of discrimination. In keeping with this commitment, harassment of employees by supervisors, coworkers, vendors or visitors to STScI will not be tolerated.


Harassment consists of unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, physical or visual that is based upon a person's protected status, such as sex, color, race, ancestry, religion, age, national origin, medical condition, disability, marital status, veteran status, citizenship status or other protected group status. STScI will not tolerate harassing conduct that affects tangible job benefits, that unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Sexual harassment deserves special mention. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demands for sexual favors, physical contact of a sexual nature and verbal abuse or threats of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment may include explicit sexual propositions, sexual innuendo, suggestive comments, sexually oriented "kidding" or "teasing", practical jokes, jokes about gender specific traits, foul or obscene language or gestures, displays of foul or obscene printed or visual material, and deliberate physical contact such as patting, pinching, or brushing against another's body, etc., under any of these conditions:

* when submission to the conduct involves a condition of the individual's employment, either stated or implied;

* when the individual's submission or refusal is used, or creates a condition where it might be used, as the basis of an employment decision that affects the individual;

* when conduct unreasonably interferes with the individual's job performance and ability to get the job done or creates a work environment that is intimidating, hostile or offensive.

The following procedure was developed in support of AURA and STScI policy to ensure the prompt investigation and resolution of any complaints of sexual or other harassment.


All employees are responsible for helping to assure that we avoid harassment. If you feel that you have experienced or witnessed harassment you should immediately notify any of the following:

* Employee's Supervisory Chain (the employee need not inform their immediate supervisor)
* Human Resources Manager (x4896)
* Deputy, Business Resource Center (x4203)
* Head, Business Resource Center (x4342)

All complaints will be thoroughly and promptly investigated regardless of whom you notify or who is involved. To the fullest extent practicable, all complaints, the investigation thereof and the terms of their resolution will be kept confidential. All complaints will be investigated fully without bias or prejudgment.

Generally, the investigation will follow these guidelines:

* The Head of Administration will appoint a Review Committee to investigate the complaint, review statements and make recommendations for action to the Director.

* The complainant will not be asked to confront or meet with an accused harasser unless he/she wishes to do so.

* It is acceptable for the complainant and alleged harasser to have a friend or coworker other than an attorney, present "for moral support" at any meeting taking place during the formal procedures.

* The complainant will be given advance notice of the participants at any meeting the complainant is asked to attend.

* To the largest extent possible, confidentiality will be strictly maintained during and after the procedure.

If a claim is found to be valid and harassment (sexual or other) has occurred, STScI will take corrective action, with such discipline of the harasser, up to and including immediate termination of employment as is appropriate. The harassed employee will be advised of what corrective action is taking place. A follow-up analysis will be done, and the complainant consulted to make sure that the harassment does not recur. Where harassment has occurred, professional counseling will usually be made available to both the harassee and harasser in conjunction with existing medical benefits.

No employee will be subject to any form of reprisal or retaliation for pursuing a sexual harassment complaint. Allegations of reprisals will be processed through the same complaint procedure above.

Employees are advised of their right to request a reconsideration of any decision if they feel that the Review Committee's investigation was not adequate. Requests for reconsideration should be in writing and directed to the Head of Administration or the Institute Director.


ehyde111's picture

I will certainly put ours out there for discussion.

[b]POLICY[/b]: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidelines regarding sexual harassment on the job. The guidelines define sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly involves an employment condition or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

The sexual harassment of any employee of [company] by any of its supervisors, agents, residents, or other employees will not be tolerated. A violation of this standard by any employee may serve as grounds for dismissal. Any employee, male or female, who believes that he/she has been subjected to sexual harassment shall report all incidents of such conduct to his/her immediate supervisor. If the immediate supervisor is the harasser, the employee should contact the next higher level of supervision. If the report of sexual harassment is not dealt with to the satisfaction of the employee, a written statement must be submitted to the next higher level of supervision following the chain of command. All such reports will be held in confidence within the confines of the investigation.

It is the policy of [company] that there will be no retaliation for lodging a legitimate complaint of sexual harassment.

The cooperation of all employees is needed in order that [company] maintains a workplace free of sexual harassment and intimidation.