CEBTS - Consortium of European Baptist Theological Schools

Sexual Harassment Policy

Human Resources Policy Code to Combat Sexual and Racial Harassment

Policy and guidelines for the implementation of a code of practice to combat sexual and racial harassment.

The policy statement of the Seminary

IBTS is committed to a working, learning and social environment that is free from sexual, racial and ethnic discrimination. We see such a policy to be an expression of our belief in the dignity of human beings made in the image of God, and their right to be treated accordingly. Any incidents of harassment will be regarded extremely seriously and can be grounds for disciplinary action which may include dismissal or expulsion.

The law

As an employer, the Seminary accepts that it has a responsibility to ensure that sexual, racial or ethnic harassment is stopped effectively and that not to do so may make it liable under the appropriate laws of the Czech Republic. Moreover it recognises that unless there are clear procedures to deal with complaints of sexual or racial harassment, the Seminary may also face action for unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal.

Who is covered by the code of practice?

All members of the Seminary are covered by this policy, whether they be students or employees of the Seminary as members of the administrative, maintenance, domestic or teaching staff. It also extends to those for whom the Seminary has a responsibility even though they are not employees or enrolled students. This includes academic visitors, visiting students, volunteers or people engaged to perform specific tasks within the Seminary. All those listed above may seek advice if they are troubled by harassment, or if they find themselves the subject of a complaint. Complaints of harassment may be brought against any member of the Seminary as defined above.

What counts as sexual and racial harassment?

Sexual harassment involves unwanted attention and behaviour which emphasises sexual status over status as an individual, colleague or student. Sexual harassment may be caused by either men or women against people of their own or opposite gender. It includes any behaviour that makes the recipient feel unjustifiably viewed in terms of their sexuality, which may be expressed in the environment of the Seminary or in physical or verbal behaviour. It may include such things as suggestive looks and unwanted sexual advances, assault or rape, belittling, foul language, degrading pictures. Sexual harassment occurs when any such behaviour creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for employment, for study or for social life.

Racial or ethnic harassment may be defined as any hostile or offensive act or expression by a person of one racial or ethnic origin against a person of another, or incitement to commit such an act. Such behaviour includes derogatory name-calling, insults and racist jokes, racist graffiti, verbal abuse and threats, physical attack, and ridicule of any individual for cultural differences.

Differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as sexual or racial harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive or intimidating to the recipient and would be regarded as harassment by any reasonable person.

No one should be deterred from complaining of behaviour which causes them distress, either because of doubts about defining what constitutes sexual and racial harassment, or because of embarrassment or fear of intimidation or publicity. The Seminary will respect the particular sensitivity of sexual and racial harassment complaints and their consequences, and accepts the need for the utmost confidentiality.

Steps to take if you are harassed

If you feel you have been, or are continuing to be harassed you will need to decide which is the most appropriate action to take. Your decision may be influenced by the extent and severity of the harassment.

  • Harassment can sometimes by stopped by taking direct action. If you feel able to do so, you can tell the harasser to stop. Make it clear to the individual(s) concerned that you find the behaviour in question unacceptable. Whenever possible say explicitly that you feel you are being ‘harassed’.


  • You may feel more confident of letting your feelings be known when you have the support of a friend, or a friend may speak on your behalf to the person(s) who harassed you.


  • An alternative is to consider writing a letter to the harasser, identifying the behaviour which you found objectionable and, if the behaviour is continuing, requesting that the harassment stop. If you write, keep a dated copy of the letter for possible future reference.


  • At any time you may seek advice from one of the persons designated as the Seminary Harassment Officers (see below). If you wish, you may be accompanied at such an interview by a sympathetic colleague. You may already have sought the help or advice of a trusted friend.

    Following such an interview, further action involving you will not normally be taken without your express permission; in particular the person about whom you are complaining will not be given your name as a complainant without your express permission.

    Because your experience of harassment may be part of a recurring pattern which requires wider investigation, the Seminary is concerned to record, however minimally, all incidents of sexual and racial harassment, and with your permission the fact that there has been an incident will be recorded by the Harassment Officer. This is not intended to breach the confidentiality of any discussions nor your right to choose not to take any further action.


  • If the harassment is serious or has not been resolved by the above means then you or someone acting on your behalf may make a formal complaint, initially to the Academic Dean or the Rector or his/her Deputy

Whatever the steps you take, if you think you are being harassed you should keep a record of the behaviour which troubles you, noting any specific incidents of harassment, including the date, time, place, witnesses (if any) and what was said and done. This information will be helpful if you decide to make a complaint.

If you are physically attacked you should seek help immediately. If you have been sexually assaulted or raped it is particularly important that you should seek advice and medical help immediately.

How is the policy implemented?

All members of the Seminary, whether staff or students, are responsible for helping to ensure that no one has to endure any form of sexual or racial harassment, and that they are encouraged and supported in any legitimate complaint. At the heart of the Seminary’s policy is the belief that:

Sexual or racial harassment of one member of the Seminary’s community by another is wholly unacceptable behaviour, and it is the Seminary’s policy to take any incidents very seriously and to act appropriately.

The policy will be implemented in the following ways:

  1. Two members of the Seminary staff, one male and one female, are the Seminary’s designated Harassment Officers. They are available to any student or member of staff to act as an adviser, offering in confidence advice and information as required, channel complaints and negotiate between parties. These Officers are Dr Wesley Brown, the Seminary Chaplain, and Dr Cheryl Brown, the acting Director of Biblical Studies.
  2. When reported, complaints of harassment will be considered with all possible speed and the Seminary will take appropriate action as quickly as possible.
  3. Though some cases of harassment may be resolved informally, where a formal complaint is received by the Academic Dean, staff or student disciplinary procedures will be followed and action may be taken against offenders up to and including dismissal or expulsion from the Seminary.
  4. Panels which handle disciplinary or grievance procedures might with benefit call upon advice, or include in membership, those with special training in dealing with harassment.
  5. All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure that all enquiries and complaints are dealt within confidence. Accusations of harassment are potentially defamatory, and therefore grounds for possible legal action, it is therefore essential that complainants as well as recipients of complaints observe strict confidentiality.
  6. Disciplinary action may be taken against any who bring complaints with mischievous or malicious intent, and may result in dismissal or expulsion from the Seminary.

Sources of advice

If you are troubled by harassment, normally you should contact one of the Seminary Harassment Officers as soon as possible. However you may find it more helpful to consult someone you know better, or whom you expect to be familiar with the immediate setting of the incident, and who may be well placed to deal with it informally. Thus, you may wish to consult a student officer or your Personal Tutor. If such people are unable to help you to resolve the matter in an informal way, it will be suggested that you meet the Harassment Officer or someone else who is better placed to deal with your enquiry.

Role of those approached for advice

The role of anyone approached for advice is strictly a counselling and advisory one. If you believe you have been harassed they will help you to take stock of the situation and will discuss the options available to you. They will assist you to resolve the problem informally, if you want help of this kind. If you so wish, the Harassment Officer will explain how the relevant disciplinary procedures of the Seminary operate if you decide to make a formal complaint.

January 2001

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