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What is a Harassment Policy?

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  • Written By: Elise Czajkowski
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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A harassment policy is a code put in place by an institution that lays out that institution's rules regarding behavior. Generally, a harassment policy will include restrictions on acting inappropriately towards another person in the institution and will detail the consequences of breaking those rules. Harassment policies are common in corporations, universities, and other sizable organizations.

Harassment is generally considered to be any behavior that upsets or threatens another person. This can include mocking, bullying, or constantly interfering with another person. Harassment of this kind can be conducted in person, or via electronic means such as phone calls or e-mails. While harassment policies may vary between different organizations, countries, and cultures, they are generally in place to ensure that all members of an organization are treated fairly.

A key element of harassment policies is addressing sexual harassment. Sexual harassment consists of persistent sexual advances or inappropriate and unwanted sexual discussions. Especially when perpetrated by a boss or another in a position of authority, sexual harassment in the work place, is considered unethical, and is in many cases illegal.

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A harassment policy sets out what is considered appropriate or inappropriate within that organization. In a corporation, this policy will apply to all employees and any other worker. In a school, it will apply to students, faculty, and staff. Most organizations will require its members to read and sign a copy of the harassment policy and thereby agree to abide by it. Some companies require their employees to complete tests or workshops that familiarize them with the company's harassment policy.

The other key point of a harassment policy is to describe the actions to be taken if the policy is broken. This includes ways for members of an organization to report harassment, and the steps that will be taken to ensure that the complaint is dealt with fairly. The policy will also describe the consequences of violation.

An important aspect of a harassment policy is the assurance that anyone who reports a possible violation of the policy is not subject to retaliation. Organizations often allow for anonymous or secret reports. In most companies, the human resources director or manager handles complaints under the harassment policy.

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