First Missing Element:

Many of these policies distributed to employees address only the topic of sexual harassment and sex discrimination. What’s missing is a broader statement that prohibits all forms for illegal harassment and illegal discrimination.

Federal and state civil rights and anti-discrimination laws protect employees from many kinds of harassment and discrimination, not just sex-related. A solid policy, one whch helps give the employer a basis for defending against charges of illegal harassment and illegal discrimination, needs to clearly tell employees that: “The Employer prohibits harassing and discriminatory behavior in the workplace or while employees are performing duties for the Employer, directed at any individual or individuals because of their race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, national origin, age, veteran status, handicap or disability, genetics, or any other legally protected characteristic or status.”

Second Missing Element:

Many harassment and discrimination policies distributed to employees do not have examples of harassing and discriminatory behavior. Or they have only examples of sexually harassing behavior. What are missing are examples of a variety of types of illegally harassing and discriminatory behavior. When an employer’s policy fails to clearly tell employees what illegal harassment and illegal discrimination are, and fails to give employees specific examples of prohibited behavior, employees who are charged with violating the policies can argue this defense: “I didn’t know what I was doing was prohibited. I didn’t know what I was doing was illegal. I didn’t know what I was doing was objectionable.”

Law Adds to Protected Classes

The Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) protects employees from discrimination based on their genetic information. GINA also prohibits health insurance carriers and group health plans from using genetic information to deny coverage to individuals. Typical employee handbooks outline the nondiscrimination requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to not base employment decisions on such factors as gender, age, pregnancy, race, color, religion, country of origin, citizenship, mental or physical disability, military service or veteran status. Employers who have not already done so need to add genetic information to that growing list. In addition, employers should ensure they list any factors required by state and local law, which might include political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, and marital status. Here is some sample language illustrating examples an employer can include in a policy prohibiting harassment and discrimination. (Before finalizing your own policy on this topic, it is important to obtain the guidance of a human resources professional and attorney familiar with your type of business and workplace and with employment law.)

TESTIMONIALS

As we’ve grown, so have our administrative and payroll needs. That’s why we’ve partnered with HR&P. HR&P supports us every day with human resources, payroll, benefits and compliance so we can focus on being the best BB’s Cafe we can be!

Brooks Bassler, Owner, BB's Cafe

Since 2010, my company has grown to over five hundred employees. With our tremendous growth we needed a human resources and payroll company that could grow with us. That company is HR&P. And as laws have changed, like the Affordable Care Act, HR&P has kept us in compliance. I focus on growing Twin Eagle. I trust HR&P with the rest.

Chuck Watson, Chairman, Twin Eagle

We are the industry leader in Oil Spill Cleanup Products and have dealt with numerous Oil Spill disasters. Knowing up close what a disaster looks like we choose to avoid them in our offices. HR&P guides us through the land mines of HR, Payroll and Benefit compliance so my team can focus solely on helping our clients with their problems, and we avoid our own.

Chad Clay, Owner, CEP Sorbents

One of the best things we did for our business was to partner with HR&P. They’re the experts in human resources, payroll and benefits administration.
HR&P’s web based solutions make it easy for us to manage our employee’s needs. They also help us stay compliant with the Affordable Care Act and with “the alphabet soup” of constantly changing Governmental regulations.

Ken Dennard, CEO, Dennard—Lascar Associates

I run a restaurant, from early in the morning to late at night, our team works hard to deliver great food in a fun atmosphere.
But there’s a lot more to running a business like human resources, payroll, benefits and compliance. So we turn to HR&P.
Outsourcing to HR&P keeps us focused on our business.

Marcus Payavla, Co-Owner, Orleans Seafood Kitchen

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Harassment and Discrimination Examples

Sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and all other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual or otherwise offensive nature, especially when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment.
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for decisions affecting an individual’s employment.
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Examples of prohibited behaviors an employee or employees may consider sexual harassment include:

  • Sexually offensive comments, jokes, innuendos and other sexually oriented statements directly from one employee to another employee.
  • Sexually oriented pictures, photos and illustrations displayed in the workplace to the view of employees or the public.
  • Spoken or written comments relating to a person’s sex, sex life, body, or sexual activities.
  • Any unwelcome advance or contact of a sexual nature.
  • Sexually oriented comments about a person’s body or behavior.
  • Showing or displaying pornographic or sexually explicit objects or illustrations in the workplace or while performing duties for the employer.
  • Writing and/or sending sexually offensive notes, memos, emails, faxes, or other communications.
  • Sexual-type touching, such as groping, kissing, fondling.
  • Requests for sexual favors in return for rewards on the job.
  • Threats against an employee if the employee refuses sexual favors.
  • Using sexually demeaning words such as “girl,” “honey,” “babe,” “doll” when referring to another.
  • Conduct of a sexual nature that makes the targeted person feel uncomfortable, humiliated, embarrassed, or unsafe.
  • Sexual assault or rape.

The employer prohibits any and all harassing and discriminatory behavior in the workplace or while performing duties for the employer, directed at any individual or individuals because of their race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, national origin, age, veteran status, handicap or disability, or any other legally protected characteristic or status.

Examples of prohibited behaviors that are harassing and/or discriminatory include:

  • Expressing comments, jokes, puns, innuendos, bantering, and teasing which demean, insult, or offend another person or persons.
  • Expressing words, names, and statements which demean, insult or offend another person or persons.
  • Leering, gawking, and making other nonverbal gestures which demean, insult or offend another person or persons.
  • Posting or displaying pictures, photos, illustrations or objects in the workplace which demean or offend another person or persons.
  • Intimidating, coercing, or taking negative or harmful action against, or threatening to take negative or harmful action against an employee because of the person’s legally protected characteristic or status. A person’s legally protected characteristic or status includes race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, national origin, age, veteran status, handicap or disability.