As an employer, you have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment.

This policy is generally required by law and should include the following elements:

  • A statement that any form of harassment will not be tolerated.
  • A definition of harassment (specifically sexual harassment), with examples.
  • A reporting procedure that provides an employee with at least two avenues for reporting perceived harassment (preferably one male and one female).
  • A statement that appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination, will be taken against the offender if it’s determined that harassment took place.
  • A statement that employees won’t face retaliation for reporting perceived harassment.

Sometimes, religious institutions encourage employees to engage in the reconciliation model laid out in Matthew 18. This approach can be beneficial in resolving many issues. However, when harassment is alleged, employees should never be asked to deal directly with the accused offender before reporting their concerns. If harassment is alleged, the organization must immediately and thoroughly investigate.

Looking for online training for your staff?

Brotherhood Mutual has free Sexual Harassment Prevention online education available. While it is designed for employees in California, it is being offered to ministries in all states. You are encouraged to refer to your state’s specific harassment prevention web page or your local attorney for guidance as to the training requirements of your state. Additionally, your state’s harassment prevention web page may outline the timing and frequency of harassment prevention training. For example, some states require training to be provided shortly after hire and once every two years, but your state may vary. We encourage you to speak with a locally licensed attorney if you have specific questions about what your state requires. CONTINUE ON TO ONLINE TRAINING PAGE.


(Name of organization) will not tolerate any form of harassment, including sexual harassment or any offensive conduct that has the effect of substantially interfering with an employee’s work performance or creating a pervasive, intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

(Name of organization) has instituted the following three-step procedure for reporting and investigating allegations of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment:

1. Reporting: An employee who believes that he or she has been the victim of harassment has a duty to report it immediately to his or her manager or to the (business administrator). In all reported cases, this organization will take reasonable steps to protect the reporting individual from retaliatory, harassing, or abusive behavior related to such reporting. (Provide examples of reasonable steps your organization may take to prevent retaliation.)

2. Investigation: The (business administrator) will direct the investigation of complaints. All employees are expected to cooperate with an investigation of any type of harassment. Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent permitted under such circumstances.

3. Corrective Action: After the investigation has been completed, the (business administrator) will make a determination regarding the resolution of the case. If warranted, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken, up to and including dismissal.

Generally, harassment exists whenever the following factors are present:

  • Unwelcome, hostile, or inappropriate conduct directed toward an individual because of his or her protected class, and
  • The conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the individual in which to work, live, or learn.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Verbal or written attacks against an individual.
  • Intimidating or hostile acts that relate to an individual’s race, color, gender, national origin, age, or disability.
  • Jokes or epithets about another person’s race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or any other protected class.
  • Physical contact that is non-consensual.
  • Refusal to offer employment or educational opportunities to someone because of a protected status.

Sexual harassment generally exists whenever these factors are present:  

  • Unwelcome sexual advances (either verbal or physical), requests for favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature have occurred, and
  • Submission to such conduct is either an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment, and submission to—or rejection of—the conduct is used as a basis for making employment decisions, or
  • The conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Verbal abuse or physical conduct of a derogatory or offensive nature.
  • The display or communication of pornographic material.
  • Job-related requests for sexual favors.

Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments or other socially acceptable conduct that doesn’t have a discriminatory effect on the employment relationship.

This is a sample handbook policy only. Your organization is responsible for compliance with all applicable laws. Accordingly, this document should not be used or adopted by your organization without first being reviewed and approved by a licensed attorney in your area. Brotherhood Mutual assumes no liability in preparation and distribution of this sample document.

Working Together © 2022 Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved. www.brotherhoodmutual.com/working-together. Updated 9/2021.