The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”
Types of harassment include:
- Pranks and jokes
- Sexual harassment
- Psychological intimidation
- Verbal assaults
- Harassment via electronic communications
An anti-harassment policy is the best way to protect you and your staff from harassment. It is also important to make sure you staff is well trained on the subject.
(http://ebusiness.ada.org/productcatalog/product.aspx?ID=110)The ADA Practical Guide to Creating an Employee Office Manual includes a sample Harassment Policy, which you can customize for your practice.
The policy may include:
- A statement of your intolerance of harassment, including any based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information
- Definitions and examples of harassment
- Protocol for employees to follow when they feel they have been harassed or they witnessed harassment
- A statement of the procedure you will follow when harassment is reported
Creating a comfortable and safe workplace for your employees is imperative. Encourage them to talk with you or their supervisor about any issues. Your employees will be happy to come to work, you will have a great practice, and you will be actively working to avoid discrimination claims.
For more information on this topic and other employee guidelines, the ADA Practical Guide to Creating an Employee Office Manual is a great resource. The EEOC also has a list of best practices (http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/initiatives/e-race/bestpractices-employees.cfm) and other information that you will find useful when putting a Harassment Policy together.