Sexual harassment occurs when someone is subjected to unwanted sexual advances, petitioned for sexual favors, or physically/verbally abused.
Harassment doesn’t have to be of a sexual nature – it can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, you could be guilty of harassing a man if you make offensive comments about men in general.
In the UK, the Equality Act of 2010 defines sexual harassment as
“unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.”
Simple teasing or offhand comments might be allowed, but harassment is illegal when it creates a hostile or offensive work environment.
This Sexual Harassment Compliance Training Course teaches you how to recognize and understand sexual harassment so that you can help to maintain a happy work environment, free from hostility and discomfort.
iPhone, Android, Tablet, and desktop devices – seamless playback and tracking
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Single enterprise licence covers your entire workforce, including contractors
Available in 20+ languages, with compliance training resources for local market regulations
What Is Harassment?
Video: Definition of harassment. Examples of real-life stories that illustrate the impact of harassment.
Interactive Screen: What harassment includes and when harassment becomes actionable.
Scenario: Jokes based on an individual’s nationality.
Key Learning: Even if someone doesn’t intend any harm, if the target of the jokes is hurt by the jokes and this is happening on a regular basis, this could create a hostile work environment.
Scenario: Risqué emails that sometimes contain jokes on religion and sexuality.
Key Learning: Jokes that offend some colleagues could contribute to an offensive, hostile work environment.
Scenario: Friendly conversation offering dating advice.
Key Learning: Intent and perception are key to determining if a statement could be considered harassment.
Interactive Screen: Definition of sexual harassment. It doesn’t have to be sexual in nature – could include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.
Interactive Screen: What constitutes sexual harassment? Verbal harassment, nonverbal (visual) harassment, physical harassment, teasing and offhand comments.
Interactive Screen: Does it have to be sexual? Who’s impacted? What does the law say? What is a hostile environment? What is quid pro quo? Are there specific laws to protect transgender people?
Scenario: A drunken proposal while at a work conference.
Key Learning: Just because an employee is not at work, they may not engage in inappropriate conduct that would otherwise be impermissible in the workplace itself.
Scenario: Spreading rumors about a colleague’s sexuality.
Key Learning: Offensive comments about a person’s sexuality are harassment, even if the victim doesn’t hear.
Scenario: Personal history interfering in a promotion decision.
Key Learning: Must have solid reasons for reaching a hiring decision.
Scenario: Same-sex harassment – one colleague sending another flirty emails and sticky notes.
Key Learning: Conduct constitutes harassment because the conduct is unwelcome and it has unreasonably interfered with his colleague’s work.
Scenario: Inappropriate physical touching.
Key Learning: Conduct may be considered harassment if it is unwelcomed and it makes the victim uncomfortable.
Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Harassment
Video: Define gender identity. Discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender is discrimination because of sex.
Scenario: Hiring a new team member who is in a same-sex relationship.
Key Learning: You cannot treat individuals differently because of their sexual orientation or preference.
Scenario: Whispers about gender reassignment.
Key Learning: When someone at work goes through a gender transition, it’s important to have in-person sexual harassment training with the employee’s managers and the colleagues who work directly with the transitioning employee.
Impacts of Harassment & Discrimination
Interactive Screen: Outline the impact that harassment has on the victim, the workforce, the company brand and reputation, productivity and profitability, and on management.
Scenario: Overhearing two colleagues mocking another colleague about religious dress.
Key Learning: In some cases, the perpetrators of inappropriate behavior don’t believe they’re doing anything wrong. If you feel comfortable, speak to the perpetrators and ask them to stop.
Scenario: Mocking over religious dress continues.
Key Learning: When the perpetrator doesn’t change their behavior, it’s best to report the incident before the situation escalates.
Scenario: Wider impact that discrimination has in the workplace.
Key Learning: Discrimination may cause a colleague to become withdrawn and less engaged in the workplace. This could have an adverse effect on the workforce, as it may make other colleagues uncomfortable and could cause a divide in working teams and groups.
Laws, Protected Groups, & Types of Harassment
Interactive Screen: Federal discrimination laws. Who’s protected? What’s included?
Interactive Screen: State laws. Examples: California, New York, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey.
Interactive Learning: What do we mean by protected groups? Examples of protected groups. Types of discrimination.
Interactive Screen: Types of harassment. Quid pro quo. Hostile work environment.
Interactive Screen: Affirmative defense – under federal law, an employer can avoid liability for discrimination if it can show three things.
Scenario: Drafting a job advertisement without discriminating against any protected groups.
Key Learning: Discriminatory conduct is prohibited in all aspects of the employment process, including recruitment.
Scenario: Candidate for an interview is in a wheelchair.
Key Learning: Unless it causes an employer undue hardship, refusing to accommodate an applicant or employee with a disability is discrimination.
Scenario: Consequences of rejecting a candidate because they might become pregnant.
Key Learning: Pregnancy is a class that is protected under both federal and state law. Marital status is a class that is protected under certain state anti-discrimination laws.
Sexual harassment training is important because harassment may involve various forms of verbal and physical conduct, of both a sexual or non-sexual nature, which have the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or offensive work environment.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?
In the UK, the Equality Act of 2010 defines sexual harassment as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.”
Although many sexual harassment cases are brought by female plaintiffs alleging conduct by a male colleague or supervisor, such claims can also involve harassment of male employees by female supervisors or colleagues, same-sex harassment, or claims that the environment was hostile for male and female employees alike. The conduct need not consist solely of lewd acts, sexual innuendos, or sexual advances. It is enough that the conduct, whether blatant or subtle, discriminates against a person on the basis of his or her gender/sex.
Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favours, descriptions of people, commentary on bodies, sexually degrading words used to describe people, jokes, name calling, repeatedly asking someone on a date when they have said they are not interested, whistling, or catcalling.
Non-Verbal (Visual) Harassment
Unwanted or offensive emails, texting, websites, blog posts, or other social media; displaying suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons or posters, obscene notes, letters, or invitations.
Gestures, touching, blocking people’s way, massages, head petting or stroking, standing too close, or purposely brushing up on someone.
Teasing and Offhand Comments
Depending on the impact on the individual, simple teasing or offhand comments might fall outside legal guidelines, but harassment is always illegal when it creates a hostile or offensive work environment.