How to Develop a Sexual Harassment Policy for 2020

A new year is the perfect time to develop new restaurant and bar policies and take a harder look at existing ones. Are your existing standard operating procedures producing maximum efficiency? Has a recent state law change made sexual harassment training mandatory, but you don’t know where to begin? Look no further! We have gathered a list of items to include in your 2020 sexual harassment policy including state resources and where to sign-up for online sexual harassment training. But first, let’s delve into what is legally considered sexual harassment in the workplace.

What is Considered Sexual Harassment?

As defined by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines, sexual harassment includes:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature
  • Sexual conduct made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment
  • Situations where submission to or rejection of sexual conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions
  • Sexual conduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance
  • Sexual conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment

State legislation continues to make revisions to sexual harassment laws, so it’s important for business owners (and more specifically restaurant and bar owners) to keep up with their state’s laws.

For example, effective January 1, 2020, all Illinois businesses must provide annual sexual harassment prevention training to all employees. Restaurant and bar employers must also provide a written sexual harassment policy to employees within the first week of employment. Learn more about sexual harassment compliance and enforcement in Illinois from the Illinois Restaurant Association.

8 Items to Include in a Sexual Harassment Policy

1. Definition of sexual harassment in the workplace. Your policy must include a clear definition of what constitutes sexual harassment.

2. Scope. Include who is expected to abide by the sexual harassment policy. What if an incident occurs outside of the restaurant/bar? What if the incident is after working hours? Be as detailed as possible.

3. Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Discuss different scenarios and give various examples of what constitutes sexual harassment or does not constitute sexual harassment. Employees who have not undergone training may have a different idea of what is considered sexual harassment.

4. How to file a complaint.
Whether an employee is the victim of sexual harassment or a witness to an incident, it is critical that the employer provide steps for filing the sexual harassment complaint. Depending on the size of your restaurant (and potential for multiple locations), it may make more sense to provide a number of complaint mechanisms. Be sure to also stress the importance of reporting these types of incidents in the workplace. Lay out a clear path for reporting the incident. Also reaffirm that every employee has a duty to report.

5. Internal Complaint Procedure.
This section should discuss how management and/or HR will handle the sexual harassment complaint, step-by-step.

Discuss all of the phases of the procedure:

  • Investigation
  • Resolutions
  • Appeals

Every situation is unique so this section shouldn’t be too detailed, but rather cover the steps of addressing, documenting, and completing the procedure.

6. Employee Rights. Refer to your state’s employee rights and make sure to go over them in this section. This is also a great place to list state/city relevant resources available to the persons involved.

7. Retaliation.
Individuals who have been subjected to sexual harassment or witnessed it must know they have protection against later vengeful acts.

8. Disciplinary Action.

Explain the disciplinary process for your restaurant/bar. For example, does a first-time offender who made inappropriate jokes receive a verbal warning? Are second-time offenders demoted, transferred, or fired? Explain the process and potential outcomes.

Most importantly, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney in your state to review and discuss your sexual harassment policy in detail before rolling out to employees.

Online Sexual Harassment Training

Approved online sexual harassment training for restaraunts is available through ServSafe. Get employees trained with ServSafe’s Sexual Harassment Prevention for the Restaurant Industry program to help create a harassment-free workplace.

Discounts on Sexual Harassment Training for Society Insurance Policyholders

Society Insurance policyholders are eligible for a discount on ServSafe programs. To receive a discounted rate, visit Society’s Programs & Discounts page and follow the instructions to order materials. The discounts will be applied at checkout.

Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) with Society Insurance

If you’re a small business owner, it’s important to note that over 40% of employment lawsuits happen to companies with 100 or less employees. Consider an extra layer of protection for your restaurant and bar by adding EPLI coverage.

You may strive to be fair and nondiscriminatory in your employment practices, but even a simple misunderstanding could expose you to an employee-related claim or allegation such as sexual harassment, discrimination, abuse or wrongful termination. Society’s EPLI coverage provides powerful defense against such claims, should they occur.

Additional Sexual Harassment Resources by State

Colorado

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Minnesota

Tennessee

Wisconsin

If you need to review your coverage, contact your local Society Insurance agent. They would be happy to do a policy review to make sure your restaurant or bar has the insurance coverage you need to safeguard your livelihood.

This article is not intended to give legal opinions or provide any kind of legal counsel. For a legal opinion, please seek legal counsel from a qualified attorney.

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