AJP standards prohibit harassment or abuse of any kind, whether between a supervisor and a worker or between workers.
No physical, psychological, verbal, or sexual harassment or abuse is tolerated. Employer/farmer is responsible for disciplining personnel, including supervisors, who engage in any sort of harassment or abuse. (Standard 3.1.6.b)
Some forms of harassment are explicitly illegal, such as sexual harassment: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, for example, makes employers accountable for providing a work environment free from harassment and discrimination. In such cases a business’s policies and actions are usually dictated very specifically by law and regulation. Other forms of abusive behavior may or may not be specifically prohibited by the law, but employers may still be held liable for allowing abusive behavior to occur. In line with the AJP standards, most authorities recommend employers set clear policies that prohibit any kind of abusive behavior or harassment.
Community agreements are a good way to establish acceptable norms of behavior and prohibit abusive behavior. Such agreements can be brief or detailed. Posting those agreements visibly, and regularly revisiting those agreements as a team, will help to maintain a standard of respectful behavior. Employers should communicate clearly that workers will be disciplined or terminated for violating the established expectations for behavior.
Regardless of how you set expectations for behavior in general, your workplace must have a clear policy against sexual harassment, and all employees must be made familiar with that policy.
Sexual Harassment #
Sexual harassment and discrimination is against the law. Employers have legal and ethical responsibilities to establish workplace policies against harassment and train their employees in those policies. Your policy should define what counts as harassment, describe how to report harassment, and establish how complaints will be investigated and adjudicated. That said, you should probably use a policy provided by your state or a legal organization. Your state government may have specific requirements or guidance on what your workplace’s policy should be, and you should look to your state’s Department of Labor for more information.
We provide one sample policy here, lightly adapted from A Legal Guide to the Business of Farming in Vermont by Annette Higby, which is part of our Model Handbook for Farm Employees:
Example state policy:
- Model Sexual Harassment Policy (Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination) and Workplace Poster
See your own state government’s website for a model policy and any required workplace postings.
You should fully explain your policy against sexual harassment and the laws regarding harassment in employee trainings. These trainings may be required by law in your state; such training is required by the AJP standards and is also simply the right thing to do. UC Davis has a helpful bilingual training pamphlet regarding sexual harassment. You should post your policy in a visible location with other workplace postings; you may be required to do so by law.