HR Management & Compliance

Cover These 5 ‘Rs’ in Your Antiharassment Training

Creating an expectation that employees will treat one another with respect and clearly identifying unacceptable work behaviors should be the focus of an employer’s policies and training to avoid harassment in the workplace, says Jonathan Segal, a partner in the law firm of Duane Morris, LLP.
Segal also says that employers should create policies that prohibit inappropriate conduct in the workplace, even if the conduct by itself might not rise to the level of unlawful harassment. In addition, an employer’s policies, training, and complaint procedure should reflect all harassment, not only sexual harassment.
Segal says employers should train their employees that harassment has to do with the power balance between supervisors and employees, the comfort level a person may have based on his or her experiences, and recognition of how diversity may affect a person’s perspective.

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When training supervisors, Segal suggests that employers cover the 5 Rs:
1. Refrain from engaging in harassment and other inappropriate behavior (even if not unlawful).
2. Report all complaints of harassment and other inappropriate conduct to Human Resources (HR), even if the employee:

  • Requests that nothing be done
  • Asks for absolute confidentiality
  • Does not use legal buzz words

3. Respond proactively to harassment and other inappropriate conduct, even if there is no complaint.

  • Silence equals tacit support.
  • Consult with HR to discuss remedial action.

4. Remedy harassment and other inappropriate conduct.

  • Focus on inappropriateness not illegality.
  • Consult with HR.

5. Refrain from unlawful retaliation, broadly defined as:

  • Tangible adverse employment actions
  • Other material terms and conditions of employment
  • Independent of employment

Segal emphasizes that employers should be sure to cover the basics when training employees and supervisors and should not assume that employees know or understand what the employer considers inappropriate conduct.

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The information in today’s Advisor is adapted from an article by BLR Legal Editor, Joan Farrell, that first appeared on®.
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