As an employer, demonstrating that you took appropriate steps is crucial.
In fact, demonstrating that you took immediate action and that the consequences for the perpetrator were severe, is also critical.
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The standard definition for harassment is unwanted conduct on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation etc.
which has the purpose or effect of either violating the claimant's dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) defines workplace sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature which unreasonably interferes with the performance of a person's job or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Examples of bullying could be: Vigorous speech and comment, academic debate and legitimate management of the performance of staff or students can be distinguished from bullying behaviour.
However care should be taken to ensure that neither staff nor students are made to feel intimidated.
Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality.
To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.
The front line leader is usually the person initiating and following through on those steps, so they have to feel confident about what they are doing.