Early Intervention Can Help Prevent Sexual Harassment Charges
Written exclusively for My Community Workplace for Education
A Jesuit priest who was the president of a prestigious Manhattan Catholic high school, faces removal from his position following an investigation into claims of sexual harassment.
The school's board of trustees brought in a third party to investigate reports of sexual misconduct by the president with multiple adult members of the school community, including subordinate school employees. The chairman of the board confirmed in a statement that the investigation found the claims of "inappropriate and unwelcome verbal communications and physical conduct, all of a sexual nature," to be valid.
According to the chairman, the investigation confirmed that the sexual misconduct was unwelcome, and persisted even after the targets of the harassment specifically asked him to stop.
The board of trustees placed the man on administrative leave when they learned of the complaints and will now take steps to terminate him. Liam Stack "Head of Elite Catholic School Is Fired Over Sexual Misconduct Charges" nytimes.com (Apr. 12, 2021).
- Create a code of conduct for all employees, from top administrative leaders down to volunteers.
- Communicate to employees that you "want to know" of misconduct as soon as it occurs and assure them they can disclose such incidents without reprisal.
- Train all staff members on behavioral expectations, including examples of both appropriate and inappropriate conduct.
- Provide multiple avenues through which staff members can report sexual misconduct and address all reports of misconduct no matter how minor.
- Investigate reports in a prompt and consistent manner, treating all those involved with respect throughout the process. Employees are more likely to report misconduct if they know it will be investigated fairly.
- Develop a disciplinary procedure that incorporates varying levels of disciplinary measures and apply those measures consistently regardless of the source of the harassment.
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