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How Employees Can Prevent Sexual Harassment

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  • 0:00 Prevention Through Knowledge
  • 1:37 Mandatory Procedures
  • 3:34 Use Common Sense
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Sexual harassment can affect the daily work environment for not only the victim, but all employees in a workplace. However, employees are not powerless. In this lesson, you'll learn how employees can help prevent harassment from happening to themselves and others.

Prevention Through Knowledge

Workplace sexual harassment can create problems for the organization and its members. The best solution to avoid sexual harassment, and the harm it imposes, is to be proactive rather than reactive. Empowering employees to help prevent sexual harassment starts with knowledge of sexual harassment.

You can break sexual harassment down into two types. The first type, quid pro quo harassment, occurs when a supervisor demands a sexual favor from a subordinate employee, either in exchange for a beneficial employment action or to avoid an adverse employment action. Examples of employment actions include hiring, firing, transferring and compensation decisions.

The second type of sexual harassment is hostile environment sexual harassment. According to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), this type of harassment involves the victim being exposed to severe and pervasive 'verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . . when 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.' Examples include telling inappropriate jokes, displaying lewd and offensive images and engaging in unwelcome and lewd touching.

Preventing Sexual Harassment - Mandatory Procedures

Now that we understand what sexual harassment entails, how can we do our part? Employees need to read, understand and commit to their employer's sexual harassment policy. Your organization's sexual harassment policy outlines the rules and procedures relating to defining, reporting, investigating and remedying sexual harassment. The policies are designed to prevent and correct instances of sexual harassment in the workplace. Again, one of your responsibilities as an employee is to know and comply with the policy.

While sexual harassment policies will differ across organizations, there are common themes. First and foremost, the policies will define and prohibit acts of sexual harassment at work and during work-related activities. Second, the policies will outline how to report sexual harassment. As an employee, you should report sexual harassment even if you are not the victim. You should also fully cooperate with the organization's investigation of any complaint. Third, a solid policy will have procedures for swift and certain investigation of sexual harassment. Finally, a good policy will require immediate and effective remedial action to stop the harassment, appropriately sanction the harasser and adequately correct the damage to the victim, which will help deter future instances of harassment.

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