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handling sexual harassment

  1. Take the report seriously.
    Assure the person that the complaint or problem is being taken seriously and that the institution will respond to the problem promptly.
  2. Listen, sympathize, but don't judge.
    Listen to what the person has to say, sympathize with them. Do assure the person that the institution takes sexual harassment seriously and will not tolerate it.
  3. Don't delay.
    Delays of even a few days can make investigations difficult or send a signal to the complainant that the institution is not taking the complaint or problem seriously.
  4. Respond to concerns.
    If the complainant expresses fear, assure the person that the institution will do everything in its power to ensure confidentiality (but make no promises), prevent retaliation, and stop further harassment. If you are the person designated to process complaints or investigate them, answer any questions about the complaint process that will not jeopardize the investigation. If you are not the appropriate person to process a complaint, assure the complainant that his or her questions will be answered by the appropriate person.
  5. Document.
    Write a detailed summary of what the complainant told you, including your observations of the person's demeanor.Submit it to the individual who will be processing the complaint.
  6. Follow up on the complaint.
    Check with the complainant the next day to ensure that he or she is getting needed assistance.
  7. Avoid using "Dangerous Words."
  • It's just teasing - no big deal.
  • It's your fault for dressing so provocatively.
  • I know he/she didn't mean anything like that.
  • That's how they do things where he comes from.
  • Why can't you learn to accept a compliment?
  • It's just a joke. Lighten up.
  • It's just a prank that got out of hand.
  • Just ignore it.
  • Oh well, boys will be boys


Fax: 573.651.2108
Academic Hall Room 012
Office of Human Resources
One University Plaza, MS 3150
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701