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Dome - Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Dome February 2013

Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Date: February 1, 2013


Alanna Dennis, an equal employment opportunity compliance specialist, says everyone needs to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Alanna Dennis, an equal employment opportunity compliance specialist, says everyone needs to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

Several years ago, members of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System Office of Workforce Diversity (OWD) noticed that they were consistently receiving more sexual harassment complaints than any discrimination allegations relating to race, age, creed or disability. Determined to create a workplace in which all employees feel safe and receive equal treatment, the OWD team collaborated with Pamela Paulk, senior vice president of human resources for Johns Hopkins Medicine, to develop an online program to identify and prevent sexual harassment at the workplace.

“Some employees may not understand what sexual harassment is and the impact it may have on their employment or on the overall organization,” says Alanna Dennis, who works in the OWD to ensure equal employment opportunities. Pointing out that sexual harassment is against Johns Hopkins policy as well as against federal and state laws, Dennis expects that the online course will become mandatory for all employees, similar to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training.

The 30-minute video provides case scenarios that explain the legal definition of sexual harassment, how to report it and the consequences of such behavior. Inappropriate comments and jokes, for example, can create a hostile work environment that affects an entire team. Perpetrators potentially face termination of employment and/or litigation, based on the severity and duration of the behavior.     

 The online training is just one way OWD is creating a culture to support Johns Hopkins’ core values of diversity, inclusion, respect and collegiality. Other system-wide efforts include Campus Conversations on Diversity and Inclusion, the Diversity Best Practices Forum and a variety of training programs on topics such as subconscious bias and cross-cultural communication.

To complete the new module, access the My Learning portal via the intranet and select “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.” If you have questions or concerns related to harassment or discrimination in the workplace, contact the Office of Workforce Diversity at 443-287-2630.

—Shannon Swiger

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