All employees of The Daily and the university are obligated to maintain a work environment free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is illegal and those who engage in it may face university sanctions along with civil and criminal penalties. As an editor, you have the same responsibilities as the individual along with added duties. You must: Educate your employees about what constitutes harassment and what to do if it occurs, model behavior and respond to allegations immediately.
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT? Unwelcome behavior of sexual nature. It can be threatening (quid pro quo), physical, verbal, non-verbal and environmental.
FEDERAL LAW AND OU PROHIBIT SEXUAL HARASSMENT: Sexual harassment is against the law. Courts have defined it as a form of sexual discrimination. The university is responsible for sexual harassment in the workplace, even if managers were not aware it occurred. Under civil law, individuals can be sued. The university can deal with harassment whenever it becomes aware of its existence.
IF YOU ARE A VICTIM: Document the behavior, including the date, time, people involved and description of what happened. Confront the harasser, stating what is offensive and demanding it stop. If an in-person confrontation isn’t tenable, write a message in which you name the behavior, describe its impacts, date the communication and give it to the individual and keep a copy for yourself. Finally, inform your supervisor, adviser or the director of Student Media.
RECEIVING A SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINT: Be sensitive to it being a difficult subject. Get the complete picture, seeking details such as what exactly happened; what was said, where and in what context; whether there was physical contact; were there witnesses; how long has it been happening and was the harasser asked to stop? Find out what remedy the employee seeks. Let the employee know you will stop the behavior, follow up and ensure the harasser will not retaliate. Document your conversation. Immediately inform your editor, the adviser and the director of Student Media.
SPEAKING WITH AN ALLEGED HARASSER: Be to the point. Start with, “The purpose of this meeting is to talk about an allegation of sexual harassment.” Focus on specific behavior, not intentions. Ask the individual to respond separately to each allegation. Ask if there are witnesses. If the individual admits to the behavior, tell them it must stop. If they deny it, explain that you have to do additional fact finding. State that you will follow up. Immediately after the conversation document your meeting.
SPEAKING WITH WITNESSES: Speak to each privately. Start with, “Your name has been given to us as a person who may have observed an interaction between employees, and we’d like to talk with you about your observations.” Describe the situation or circumstances and ask if they observed it. If possible, avoid naming parties involved. Focus on observations, not assumptions or opinions. Stress the confidentiality of the conversation. Document your conversations.
CORRECTIVE ACTION: Once you’ve determined that harassment occurred, corrective action should take place that matches the seriousness of the action and the advice of the adviser and director. In addition to the seriousness of the behavior, disciplinary action taken in similar incidents.