the shape of leadership

Creating a Sexual Harassment Policy

Steps your church should take now

Richard R Hammar on May 30, 2018

It’s important to establish, publicize and enforce anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures. While it is not always a legal requirement, overlooking this matter makes it difficult for an employer to prove reasonable care in preventing and correcting harassment.

Include the following in your written sexual harassment policy:

• Define sexual harassment (both quid pro quo and hostile environment), and state unequivocally that your organization will not tolerate it and that it will be the basis for immediate discipline (up to and including dismissal).

• Encourage victims to report incidents of harassment, and outline the procedure for filing complaints.

Communicate the final policy to all workers, and investigate all complaints immediately.

• Assure employees that your organization will investigate their complaints promptly, maintain their confidentiality and see that they do not suffer retaliation.

• Outline disciplinary procedures for policy violations.

Seek an attorney’s assistance in drafting the sexual harassment policy.

Communicate the final policy to all workers, and investigate all complaints immediately.

Discipline employees who violate the policy. However, be careful not to administer discipline without adequate proof. Discipline not involving dismissal should include a warning that any future incidents of harassment may result in immediate dismissal. Follow up by meeting with the victim to ask whether further incidents have occurred.

Keep in mind that a written sexual harassment policy does not insulate a church from all sexual harassment liability. The best defense is prevention.

This article appeared in the May/June 2018 edition of Influence magazine.

Adapted from Church Law & Tax Report, March/April 2018. Used by permission. © Christianity Today.


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