Zo’s EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK PART IV: ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY

This is going to be another lawyerly section of the Zo employee handbook.  Why, you ask, is this part lawyerly? Is there a law that requires you to have an anti-harassment policy? Well, sort of.  What the heck does “sort of” mean, Zo? It means that there is no statute that specifically requires you to have an anti-harassment policy, but the U.S. Supreme Court says that if you want to take advantage of a certain defense to a sexual harassment charge, you have to have a policy. And when the Supreme Court says we think it is a good idea that you have a policy. . . well, we lawyers tend to agree. One more thing to keep in mind, look at the title.  I like something like “Policy Against Harassment” not “Harassment Policy”.  The former makes if clear you won’t condone harassment, the latter makes it sound like you allow harassment as long as you do it by the rules.  Oh and it is an anti “harassment” policy, not an anti “sexual harassment” policy.  I just think it is a good idea to make sure employee’s know you won’t tolerate any harassment based on any protected category, not just sex or gender.  So, here we go:

POLICY AGAINST HARASSMENT

It is our policy here at Zo’s to provide a work environment free from harassment. Zo’s will not tolerate any conduct that violates this policy, and will promptly investigate and resolve all alleged complaints and take appropriate disciplinary action against employees who violate this policy.

Zo’s will not tolerate harassment of any employee by any other employee, supervisor, vendor or customer. Harassment for any discriminatory reason, such as sex, race, color, national origin, disability, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other protected category, violates Zo’s policy.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or any other conduct of a sexual nature when:  (1) submission to the conduct is made, either implicitly or explicitly, a condition of employment; (2) submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an employment decision affecting the harassed employee; or (3) the harassment has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the employee’s work performance or creating an environment that is intimidating, hostile or offensive to the employee.

You must exercise your own good judgment to avoid any conduct that may be perceived by others as harassment. See Rule 1 in this Handbook.  The following conduct is a partial list of these behaviors:

–                    Unwanted sexual advances

–                    Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors

–                    Making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances

–                    Visual conduct: leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of sexually suggestive objects or                                          pictures, cartoons or posters

–                    Verbal conduct: making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs and 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, suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations.

–                    Physical conduct: touching, assaulting, impeding or blocking movements.

If you believe that you have been subjected to conduct that violates this policy, you must report it immediately to your supervisor, to HR or straight to Zo. Any complaint of alleged harassment will be carefully investigated.  Should there be any violation of this policy, appropriate actions will be taken to correct the matter.. Do not allow an inappropriate situation to continue by not reporting it, regardless of who is creating that situation. No employee in this organization is exempt from this policy. In response to every complaint, Zo’s will take prompt and necessary steps to investigate the matter and will protect your confidentiality as much as is possible, recognizing the need to thoroughly investigate all complaints. Zo’s will take corrective and preventative actions where necessary. Zo’s will not retaliate against any employee who in good faith brings a complaint to the attention of Zo’s or participates in an investigation regarding a complaint. Any employee who violates this policy is subject to discipline, up to and including termination

Now that is a long one, and no doubt a lawyer wrote it, but hey . . . I am a lawyer after all; you can’t shake it all out of me.  You need this one in your handbook, and if you don’t have a handbook you need this one posted on a bulletin board or handed out to employees.