Sexual Harassment

Guidelines October 6, 1998
  1. Personal Conduct. Employees of denominational organizations are to exemplify the Christ-like life and should avoid all appearance of wrong doing. They should not for one moment indulge in sexual behavior that is harmful to themselves or others and that cast a shadow on their dedication to the Christian way of life.
  2. Mutual Respect. Employees should respect and uplift one another. They must never place another employee in a position of embarrassment or disrespect due to sexual overtones. To do so would be a violation of God’s law and the law of the land which protects human rights in the workplace.
  3. Definition. Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to the following:
    • Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature affecting an individual’s employment status. Such advances constitute sexual harassment when:
      1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.
      2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual.
      3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
      4. Threats or suggestions are made that the individual’s job, future promotions, wages, etc., depend on whether or not he/she submits to sexual demands or tolerates harassment.
    • Unwelcome sex-oriented comments (kidding, teasing, jokes, etc.);
    • Subtle pressure or requests for sexual activity;
    • Unnecessary touching of an individual (e.g., patting, pinching, hugging, repeated brushing against another person’s body, etc.);
    • Demand for sexual favors.
  4. Working Environment. Denominational organizations shall inform their employees that sexual harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated. All employees are expected to avoid any unwelcome behavior or conduct toward any other employee which could be interpreted as sexual harassment. Each organization shall designate a male and a female person to whom complaints can be made.
  5. Reporting Incidents. If an employee encounters sexual harassment from supervisors, fellow employees, clients, or nonemployees, the following steps shall be taken immediately:
    • It shall be made clear that such behavior is offensive.
    • The incidents shall be reported to the appropriate person. If possible, the complaint shall be in written form.
    • The discussion shall be conducted in an objective and thorough manner, and the complainant should be advised not to discuss the matter elsewhere due to the sensitivity of the complaint. The person to whom the complaint is made shall keep any information received strictly confidential, except as necessary to investigate or rectify the matter.
  6. Third-party Reports. All employees who are aware of incidents of apparent sexual harassment in the workplace are responsible for reporting such incidents to the appropriate person for investigation.
  7. Investigation. Complaints of sexual harassment shall be investigated promptly. The determination of whether or not a particular action constitutes sexual harassment shall be made from the facts on a case-by-case basis. On determining whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, the supervisor or appropriate official shall look at the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual overtures and the context in which the alleged incident occurred.
  8. Action. If sexual harassment is found to exist, appropriate officers shall take prompt corrective action. Depending on the severity of the act, the discipline may range from a written warning, a copy of which is placed in the offending person’s personnel file, to immediate dismissal.

These guidelines were adopted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the Annual Council Session in Nairobi, Kenya, October 6, 1988.