Designated Complaints Committee or Officer
last updated November 1, 2003

The head or director of the organization should establish a complaints committee or designate a complaints officer outside the line of management whom victims of sexual harassment may approach for confidential advice or to make a complaint.

Any complaints committee which the director of the organization establishes should have at least 50% representation by women. It is recommended that a third party (non-governmental organization or other body familiar with the sexual harassment issue) be involved in any complaint committee so as to avoid the possibility that senior levels of the organization would exert undue influence on the committee. Such a third party may include a trade union representative or co-employee or outside professionals. The committee should include members with experience in counseling, employee relations and conducting investigations.

An officer designated by the organization to receive complaints could include persons employed by the organization to perform this function, a trade union representative or outside professional. This person should have the appropriate skills and experience or be properly trained and given adequate resources. This person could be required to have counseling, employee-relations and interviewing skills and be able to provide support and advice on a confidential basis.

The complaints committee or designated complaints officer should maintain confidential records of all harassment complaints, prepare an annual report summarizing the activities of the complaints committee or officer during the previous year and forward a copy of the report to the head of the organization.

Please note that these recommendations must be revised to reflect applicable national and local law before they could be implemented by an employer.

Adapted from EU Code of Practice on Measures to Combat Sexual Harassment included in Commission Recommendation of 27 November 1991 on the protection of the dignity of women and men at work, Official Journal L 049, 1-8 (24 February 1992); EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Vicarious Employer Liability for Unlawful Harassment by supervisors No. 915.002, 11-18 (June 18, 1999); Indian National Commission for Women, Code of Conduct for Workplace adopted in accordance with the recent Supreme Court Judgment on "Sexual Harassment of Women at the Work Place" Vishaka & others vs. State of Rajasthan and others (AIR 1997 SC 3011); South African National Economic Development and Labour Council, Code of Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases; Canadian Human Rights Commission in cooperation with Human Resources Development Canada and Status of Women, Anti-Harassment Policies for the Workplace: An Employer's Guide (December 2001); and ABA, Mark I. Schickman, Sexual Harassment: The Employer's Role in Prevention.