Elements of a Good Harassment Prevention Policy

June 2011 | 0 Comments  Average 0 out of 5

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If you haven’t reviewed your harassment policy in the past few years, it’s probably time for another look. The following is a suggested structure with elements to include in your policy and tips on drafting the policy.


  • States that the institution does not tolerate harassment.
  • Describes your institution’s commitment to establishing an environment where people can work and learn without being harassed.
  • If possible, connects your harassment policy to your institution’s mission and ideals.

Prohibition of Harassment

  • Gives a clear description of the people to whom it applies (in addition to students, faculty, and staff, this statement may need to include third parties such as visitors, patients, and contractors).
  • Defines key terms and specifies prohibited behavior. Remember to check state and local laws, which often go beyond federal laws in their harassment prohibitions.
  • Prohibits all types of unlawful harassment in your jurisdiction, not just sexual harassment.
  • Prohibits harassment against groups that are not protected by law but are protected by the institution’s nondiscrimination statement. For example, an institution that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, even though it is not required to do so by law, should include sexual orientation as a protected category in its harassment policy.
  • Provides examples of improper behavior. Be sure to state that these are just examples and do not encompass all types of improper behavior.

Reporting Procedures

  • Contains information on how to report potential violations.
  • Provides an alternate reporting mechanism in case the accused harasser is the person who would normally receive complaints.
  • Describes the complaint resolution process in language that is easy to understand.
  • Discusses the level of confidentiality that will be provided to complainants. For example, the reporting procedures might state that the institution will keep the complaint confidential to the extent practicable but cannot promise complete confidentiality.


  • Describes potential consequences for violating the policy.
  • Prohibits retaliation against the complainant, witnesses, or participants in the investigation.
  • Prohibits knowingly false or malicious complaints.

Dissemination of the Policy

  • UE recommends that educational institutions distribute harassment policies to all students, faculty, and staff at least once a year.
  • An easy way to distribute the policy is an email that contains a link to the policy on the institution’s website. For those individuals without campus email, institutions should provide paper copies of the policy at least annually.


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