Policies to Adopt to Prevent and Address Sexual Harassment

Management should ensure that the Department's "zero tolerance" policy has been distributed and is understood by all employees. Supervisors should also make it clear that they will not tolerate any sexually harassing behavior among their employees. All employees must attend mandatory sexual harassment prevention training.

Make sure you attend a training session and understand the definitions, procedures, and consequences of sexual harassment. Employees must make an effort to keep the workplace professional and avoid situations or topics of discussion of a sexual nature. What you might find humorous others might, find offensive or disturbing. You are better off being overly cautious about comments made in the workplace, rather than taking chances.

When in doubt, do not make the comment, joke, etc. It is up to every employee in the workplace to set boundaries of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. If you fear that your own behavior has been misunderstood, take the time to explain and apologize to your co-worker. If you feel that you are the victim of sexual harassment, take action immediately.

If management is made aware of harassing conduct promptly, action can be quickly taken to prevent a recurrence of such conduct. If an offender is counselled or disciplined for sexually harassing behavior, the behavior should cease and others will be discouraged from similar actions. If you are a supervisor or manager, and an employee informs you of objectionable behavior in the workplace, you must take immediate action. You should talk to the individuals and find out all you can about the allegations. You should immediately take appropriate corrective action, which may include counselling or disciplinary action. You cannot ignore the situation or cover-up the allegations. If you do, the agency may be liable for damages and you may ultimately be subject to disciplinary action. Contact your EEO or Human Resources Office if you need additional assistance or guidance in handling a sexual harassment situation.