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seven critical elements

Courts often examine an organization's formal policy for an indication of how seriously it takes its obligation to prevent sexual harassment. Among the elements the courts look for are seven that are extremely important:

1. A clear prohibition of harassment, often stated as a "zero tolerance" policy;
2. A definition and explanation of sexual harassment which includes both quid pro quo harassment and the hostile work environment;
3. A procedure for reporting harassment incidents, which should include an alternate person besides the regular chain of command (in case the supervisor is the one complained of);
4. A commitment to a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation;
5. A promise of general confidentiality during and after the investigation, although limited by the necessity of disclosing some information when confronting the accused and questioning possible witnesses;
6. A commitment to appropriate punishment for anyone found guilty of harassment;
7. A strong policy against retribution against anyone filing a complaint or testifying in an investigation.

If your policy does not include all seven elements, your defense is somewhat weakened if you wind up in a formal complaint process with the EEOC or the courts. For a quick confidential assessment of your risk of a sexual harassment complaint, send an e-mail requesting a copy of our free confidential audit of your risk.



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