The Do’s and Don’ts of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace is something that most of HR professionals are familiar with. We understand how crippling it can be to an organization’s goals and objectives. This is why managers and employees need to work together to stop workplace sexual harassment before it starts.

That said, the following is a template of a “Fraternization Policy” that can be tailored to meet your company’s needs. In fact, it can serve as the foundation of any sexual harassment policies you may want to establish.

Policy agenda and functions when it comes sexual harassment in the workplace

The main function and focus of a fraternization policy is to set up guidelines that will effectively and productively regulate the kinds of personal relationships employees form with each other. This is not to say that workers should expect undue restrictions when it comes to things like dating in the workplace, but the creation of healthy boundaries and control systems. This will help your organization ensure that such relationships do not have any negative effect on the workplace environment.

A good policy should also takes into account that friendships can exist between co-workers, in the same way that employees are free to participate in labor unions or other kinds of civil rights institutions.

What’s The Scope of Your Policy?

The policy you create should be applicable to employees, of all genders and sexual orientations. This means it should be implemented across the board.

Components of the policy should include dating within the workplace, as well as addressing issues that can arise when colleagues begin dating.

Sections could include:

  • What happens if they failure to perform the tasks assigned to them, as a result of spending too much time together dealing with personal matters.
  • Recommendations on what employees should do before engaging in any kind of relationship with a colleague. Making them aware of all the possible conflicts of interests that could arise. And reminding employees to keep feelings in-check when dealing with their partners at work.
  • Defining acceptable and unacceptable behaviors; and what’s expected in case of a fight or breakup.
  • How to report (and deal with) any sexual harassment at work, especially if they are terminated by the supervisor they were involved with.
  • How to report cases of favoritism.
  • That the HR Department should be notified when an employee become intimate or romantically involved with a co-worker. It will help to avoid future cases of sexual harassment in the workplace.

If you happen to be interested in a co-worker, or in an intimate or romantic relationship with someone at work, you should be aware not cross certain boundaries that may lead to sexual harassment at work or disrupts or hinders office operations, productivity and morale. This involves behavior that offends other co-workers, distracts fellow employees and reduces their individual performance, as well as unacceptable practices like arguing, kissing or inappropriate touching in front of co-workers.

Acceptable behavior would be making small-talk when on breaks, discreet displays of affection that do not disrupt or distract others, and arriving and leaving work as a pair.

In order to avoid rampant cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is also important for employees to follow your recommended Code of Conduct, but also act appropriately towards their fellow colleagues who may be in a relationship, which includes avoiding gossip or pushing destructive innuendos.

Most importantly, you have an obligation to report and deal with any employee who has committed any kind of sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as employees whose behavior is perceived as harassment of any kind.

Let us know if you need help creating a Code of Conduct for our organization.

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