Employee policies and workplace posters are an important avenue for employers to communicate with their employees about what types of conduct are prohibited, what employees should do if they witness harassment, and what consequences a harasser could potentially face.
Under Vermont’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Law, there is a specific statutory requirement that employers must have written policies addressing sexual harassment. The law provides specific requirements for all employers:
- Adopt a Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy that informs employees about unlawful workplace sexual harassment, the provisions of the Vermont Sexual Harassment Prevention Law (21 V.S.A. 495h), and how to report sexual harassment.
- Give current and new employees individual copies of your sexual harassment policy.
- If you change or update your policy, make sure all employees get their own copy of the new version.
- Post Sexual Harassment Informational Posters [link to Anti-Discrimination Posters] in prominent workplace locations.
- Employers with 5 or more employees must create an internal process for filing and addressing sexual harassment complaints.
- Resolve sexual harassment claims and use waiver agreements in compliance with the 2018 statutory mandates.
Vermont’s sexual harassment law has additional recommendations for employers:
- Conduct an education and training program about sexual harassment prevention for all new employees that begins within the employee’s first year of employment.
- Conduct annual education and training programs about sexual harassment prevention for all employees.
- Make sure your anti-harassment education and training program for employees includes at least the information contained in the Vermont Sexual Harassment Prevention Law (21 VSA 495h).
- Train supervisors and managers about the provisions of the Vermont Sexual Harassment Prevention Law, their specific responsibilities, and actions they must take to ensure immediate and appropriate corrective action in addressing sexual harassment complaints. Conduct additional sexual harassment prevention training for new supervisory and managerial employees within their first year of employment.
- Cooperate with other employers, labor organizations, and appropriate State agencies in making sexual harassment prevention training programs available.
Implementing anti-harassment policies: best practices and resources
- Use clear and easy to understand language in your policy, and translate it into any languages spoken in your workplace. A policy cannot be effective if it is not understandable. Communicate frequently to your employees and supervisors and managers about your harassment policy.
- Use a variety of forms and methods to reinforce the harassment policy.
- Address employee conduct on social media in your harassment policy, making clear that harassment online is prohibited. Likewise, consider the potential of harassment in your company policy on social media.
- Make sure that managers receive initial and ongoing training about your harassment policy and actions that they must take to ensure immediate and appropriate corrective action in addressing complaints about harassment.
- Every so often, bring in people who can offer a fresh and critical perspective on your policy and procedures to consider whether changes or updates should be made.
Additional sexual harassment resources for employers
- Preventing Sexual Harassment Video in the Workplace, State of Vermont Attorney General’s Office, June 2019
- Let’s Talk Gender, Let’s Talk #Harassment Cards, Change the Story VT
- American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence, Sexual Harassment Resource List
- Title IX/Sexual Harassment Toolkit for Institutions of Higher Learning, College and University Professional Association for Human Resources
- Resources for Dealing with Sexual Harassment - For Companies, Lean In.org
- Complete Meeting Guide, How to Talk about Sexual Harassment, Lean In.org