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An anti-harassment policy should protect you and your employees

Like most other Arizona companies, you want to create a positive and welcoming work environment for your employees. You probably want your employees to want to come to work and do their jobs well. You took the time to diligently select employees you felt were not only qualified to perform the duties of the positions they fill, but who would also work well together.

Sadly, your methods of choosing employees that fit these criteria is not foolproof. Occasionally, you may end up with an employee who fails to follow the rules, which means that someone else could be suffering at the hands of that person. Harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated, and in order to convey that to your employees, you need a solid and straight forward policy against it that everyone understands.

What should you include in an anti-harassment policy?

In order to create an anti-harassment policy that protects your employees and your company, you may want to consider including the following:

  • A statement regarding the fact that the company tolerates no harassment under any circumstances
  • A statement that federal, state and local laws prohibit harassment by anyone based on the following:
    • Race
    • Gender
    • Religion
    • Pregnancy
    • Color
    • Gender identity
    • Sexual orientation
    • Age
    • Disability
    • National origin
    • Genetic information
  • A statement regarding the potential consequences for harassing an employee
  • A description of the reporting process
  • The identification of a "neutral" individual to whom harassment can be reported
  • A requirement that anyone who witnesses or suffers harassment is to report it to the appropriate person immediately
  • A statement regarding the confidentiality of complaints and participation in investigations
  • An assurance that reporting harassment will not be punished
  • A requirement to investigate any report of harassment promptly, impartially and professionally
  • A requirement for those with the power to do so to take immediate preventative and corrective action when necessary
  • A requirement to keep the alleged victim of harassment updated on the status of the investigation and any actions taken

A policy that includes the above puts everyone on notice that your company takes harassment seriously. Anyone who suffers or sees harassment can rest assured that your organization will not tolerate it, and those who may perpetrate it are on notice that their actions have consequences. You may need to impress upon those responsible for hearing, investigating and acting on such complaints that they need to do so without fail.

In some cases, the perceived harassment may boil down to a misunderstanding that can be cleared up with better communication and informal reprimands. However, no one should assume that every complaint falls into this category. Document everything regarding any incidents reported as well. The potential for short-term inconvenience and hurt feelings is worth it if it turns out there is a real problem requiring more serious action. If an employee files a lawsuit, you want to be sure that you did everything in your power to correct the problem.

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