Responding to Workplace Complaints

Here is Facebook’s internal Harassment Policy in full:

Facebook’s Harassment Policy
(U.S. Locations)

At Facebook, we believe it’s essential to provide all employees with a respectful and safe working environment. As a result, we don’t tolerate harassment or any mistreatment of employees in the workplace or work-related situations, including unlawful harassment on the basis of the following protected categories:

  • race, color, ethnic or national origin;
  • age;
  • religion or religious creed (or belief, where applicable);
  • sex, including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions;
  • sexual orientation;
  • gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender status, or sexual stereotypes;
  • nationality, immigration status, citizenship, or ancestry;
  • marital status;
  • protected military or veteran status;
  • physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information or characteristics (or those of a family member);
  • political views or activity;
  • status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; or
  • any other basis prohibited under federal, state, or local law.

Harassment under this Harassment Policy (Policy) may include conduct that creates a disrespectful, intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for an employee. Engaging in such conduct is a violation of this Policy.

 

If Facebook determines that an employee’s conduct has violated this Policy, we will take steps to ensure the conduct is effectively addressed, and any employee found to have engaged in harassing conduct may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

 

Because the intent of this Policy is to deter conduct that is unwanted, unreasonable, and demeaning, Facebook may consider an employee’s conduct to be in violation of this Policy even if it falls short of unlawful harassment under applicable law. When determining whether conduct violates this Policy, we consider whether a reasonable person could conclude that the conduct created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, or demeaning environment.

 

This Policy applies to everyone who works for Facebook and any of its subsidiaries. Everyone—including individual contributors, managers, and contingent workers—is responsible for following and upholding this Policy. Additionally, we don’t tolerate harassment of employees by non-employees (e.g., contingent workers, guests, vendors, clients, and agency partners), nor do we tolerate harassment of non-employees by employees.

 

All Facebook managers globally are required to attend our mandatory sexual harassment training, which includes a comprehensive review of our Policy and applicable law.

Examples of Harassment

Harassment can range from extreme forms such as violence, threats, or physical touching to less obvious actions like ridiculing, teasing, or repeatedly bothering colleagues or subordinates or refusing to talk to them.

 

For example, harassment may include the following types of conduct:

  • derogatory or insensitive jokes, pranks, or comments;
  • slurs or epithets;
  • unwelcome sexual advances or invitations;
  • non-verbal behavior such as staring, leering, or gestures;
  • ridiculing or demeaning comments;
  • innuendos or veiled threats;
  • intentionally excluding someone from normal workplace conversations and making them feel unwelcome;
  • displaying or sharing offensive images such as posters, videos, photos, cartoons, screensavers, emails, or drawings that are derogatory or sexual;
  • offensive comments about appearance, or other personal or physical characteristics, such as sexually charged comments or comments on someone’s physical disability;
  • unnecessary or unwanted bodily contact such as groping or massaging, blocking normal movement, or physically interfering with the work of another individual; or
  • threats or demands that a person submit to sexual requests as a condition of continued employment or to avoid some other loss, and offers of employment-related benefits in return for sexual favors.

This list of examples is not exhaustive, and there may be other behaviors that constitute unacceptable harassment under the Policy.

 

“I was joking” or “I didn’t mean it that way” are not defenses to allegations of harassment.  Nor is being under the influence of alcohol or other substances. This Policy applies to conduct at work and at work-related social events, office parties, off-sites, and client entertainment events. Employees are expected to be particularly careful about what they say and do in these circumstances.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment, which is harassment specifically based on sex, can take two forms:

  • Hostile Work Environment: Conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment; and
  • Quid Pro Quo Harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an employee’s employment, or when submission to or rejection of such conduct by an employee is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that employee.

Sexual harassment can happen regardless of the individuals’ gender, gender identity, or gender expression and can, for example, occur between same-sex individuals as well as between opposite-sex individuals, and does not require that the harassing conduct be motivated by sexual desire.

 

For California-based employees: To learn more about sexual harassment, see the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s information sheet.

Bullying

Facebook does not tolerate abusive conduct, bullying or other intimidating or aggressive behavior among employees or others covered by this Policy, whether or not it is based on a protected category. If an employee is found to be mistreating his or her colleagues, we will take appropriate action to stop the behavior. If you would like to report behavior that you believe is bullying, you may use the same reporting procedures outlined below.

Reporting Procedures

Managers at Facebook are required to promptly (ideally, within 24 hours) report any violation or suspected violation of this Policy. Any employee who believes he or she has been harassed, or has witnessed or heard about a potential violation of this Policy, should report the conduct so that the Company can take steps to remedy any violations of the Policy.

 

If you suspect harassment, discrimination, or retaliation (see our Policy Prohibiting Retaliation below) has occurred, you are encouraged (and managers are required) to promptly provide a written or oral complaint to any of the following:

  • Any Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) or Employee Relations Partner (ERP);
  • Employment Law Team; or
  • Anonymous Whistleblower Hotline.

When possible, a complaint should include details of the incident or incidents, names of individuals involved, and names of any witnesses.

 

The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) investigate and prosecute complaints of prohibited harassment, discrimination and retaliation in employment. If you think you have been harassed or discriminated against, or that you have been retaliated against for resisting, complaining or participating in an investigation, you may file a complaint with the appropriate agency. The nearest office can be found by visiting the agency websites at www.dfeh.ca.gov and www.eeoc.gov.

 

Supervisors and managers who receive a complaint of, or learn of, information that suggests this Policy may have been violated are required to promptly (ideally within 24 hours) forward that complaint to Human Resources, and will be subject to discipline for failing to timely report. As soon as reasonably possible, the Company will investigate any allegations and take appropriate remedial action. 

 

We will keep all complaints confidential to the extent possible while still fulfilling our obligation to investigate and end any harassing conduct.

Investigation Process

Facebook has a legal obligation to promptly investigate and respond to all complaints regarding potential violations of this Policy. Upon learning of conduct requiring further review, qualified investigators will complete thorough investigations in a timely and impartial manner. You can learn more about our investigations process below.

 

All persons to whom a complaint is made or who learn of a complaint as part of a Company investigation must do everything reasonably possible to keep the complaint confidential in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation while it is ongoing, to ensure fairness to all involved, and to protect the privacy of employees who have brought complaints or are accused of misconduct.

 

Employees must cooperate and provide truthful information in an investigation.

 

Nothing in this Policy is to be construed as a guarantee of absolute confidentiality or intended to curtail employee rights under the law to discuss work-related matters. Disclosure of information learned through the complaint process and the investigation will be limited to disclosures that are necessary for the Company to fulfill its legal obligations to investigate and take prompt action to end harassment.

Policy Prohibiting Retaliation

We recognize that employees may find it difficult to raise complaints about harassment, so we have a policy meant to encourage employees to come forward with their concerns without fear of retaliation. It is against Company policy (and may be unlawful) for any employee to retaliate against another for his or her participation in the complaint process.

 

Retaliation is when someone penalizes another person for any of the following:

  • Reporting what he/she believes in good faith to be harassment and/or a violation of this Policy;
  • Expressing an intent to report what he/she believes in good faith to be harassment and/or a violation of this Policy;
  • Assisting another employee in an effort to report harassment and/or a violation of this Policy; or
  • Participating in any investigation under this Policy.

Retaliating against a co-worker who made a complaint or otherwise participates in the investigation process is grounds for discipline, up to and including termination.

 

If you have questions about this Policy, please contact your HRBP, ERP, or the Employment Law Team.


Facebook’s Approach to the Workplace Investigations Process

Below we are sharing our internal FAQ for employees on Facebook’s investigations process

We have an obligation to do the right thing for everyone we serve, including our employees, contingent workers, customers, and investors.

Who’s It For?

This outline applies to Facebook’s US offices. Outside the US, the investigations process varies depending on local law. Contact the Employment Law Team if you have region-specific questions.

Why Do We Conduct Workplace Investigations?

When we learn about a potential violation of Facebook policy or law, it’s our job and obligation to investigate, and when a violation of Facebook policy or law is found, to stop the misconduct. Our goal is to create a safe and respectful environment where everyone can come and do their best work.

What Do We Investigate?

A few examples of the types of matters we investigate include complaints about harassment and discrimination, disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, improper conflicts of interest, and abuse of company resources.

 

Some of these topics are sensitive, and we want people to feel as comfortable as possible coming to us with concerns. To that end, we try to keep matters as confidential as possible.

How Do I Report a Potential Violation of Law or Policy?

If you see or hear of something that might be a violation of Facebook policy or law, we encourage you to speak up. If you are a manager, you are required to report any potential violations to HR. Facebook provides a variety of channels for people to report concerns:

  1. Any Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) or Employee Relations Partner (ERP)
  2. Employment Law
  3. Anonymous Whistleblower Hotline

Should I Be Concerned About Retaliation?

No. The law protects employees from retaliation for reporting or participating in an investigation, as does Facebook policy. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to unlawful retaliation. Specifically, Facebook’s Harassment Policy encourages employees to come forward with their concerns and participate in the investigations process, all without fear of retaliation.

Who Conducts the Investigation?

Once a concern has been raised, our Investigations Team, an independent and impartial function within the People Team, conducts a prompt and thorough investigation to determine facts.  Each investigation is tailored to the specific issues being investigated and is also documented and tracked to ensure reasonable progress and timely closure of the investigation.  Findings are then shared with a very small group of people, generally folks in HR and Legal, on a need-to-know basis. The Investigations Team is not the decision maker, but simply a fact finder tasked with reaching reasonable conclusions.

How are employees involved in investigations?

If you’re asked to participate in an investigation, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Prior to the meeting: A member of the Investigations Team will reach out to you by email to schedule a meeting. You do not need to prepare for the meeting unless specifically requested to do so. Given the sensitive nature of an investigation, you will be asked to keep this information as confidential as possible. Our Investigations Team generally does not provide context for the meeting at this stage of the process. If you experience stress as a result of being invited to this meeting and need someone to talk to, reach out to your HR Business Partner or ER Partner.
  2. During the meeting: There will likely be two people from the Investigations Team in the room during the meeting. One will be there to take notes. You’ll be asked a variety of questions about a particular topic. It’s important that you be open and honest in your responses. The Investigations Team is committed to being respectful, impartial, and professional during the meeting.
  3. Following the meeting: To protect confidentiality and to ensure fairness to everyone involved, we may not be able to answer specific questions about an investigation, but the Investigations Team will reach out to you to inform you that the matter has been addressed and closed. Contact the lead investigator or your HR Business Partner or ER Partner if you have follow up questions or need help.

Do I Have to Participate in an Investigation if Asked?

Yes. Our people have an obligation to participate in an investigation.

Do I Have to Report a Facebook Policy Violation?

We ask everyone who works for Facebook to report a potential violation of policy or law, but if you are a manager, you are required to report anything that comes to your attention. If you have questions about what that might look like, refer to our Corporate Policies, which includes our Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy. You can also ask your HR Business Partner or ER Partner.

Will My Manager Find Out if I’m Meeting With the Investigations Team?

Not necessarily. Information regarding the investigation is shared on a need to know basis. There are many instances where a manager doesn’t need to know that you are participating in an investigation.

Will This Meeting Be Recorded?

No, but notes may be taken.

Who Can I Talk to About This Investigation?

Contact the lead investigator who reached out to you initially or your HR Business Partner or ER Partner. To protect the confidentiality of the investigation, you should not speak to anyone else, including your manager, about this investigation. As a result we may not be able to answer specific questions about an investigation, but are happy to talk to you about the process.

What Are the Outcomes of an Investigation?

Outcomes range from no action to education, coaching or counseling, warnings, and other disciplinary actions up to and including termination. Outcomes are usually determined by business leaders with input from HR and Legal.

Why Do You Ask That I Keep The Investigation Confidential?

In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation while it is ongoing, to ensure fairness to all involved, and to protect the privacy of employees who have brought complaints or are accused of misconduct.  Additionally, keeping things confidential helps minimize retaliation against participants and minimizes disruption in the workplace.  Our request for confidentiality is not meant or intended to curtail your rights under the law to discuss work-related matters.


Tips for Maximizing the Impact of Anti-Harassment Training for Supervisors
(U.S. Companies)

Below are tips and guidelines from Facebook’s Employment Law Team on how to run successful anti-harassment training.

 

Training managers and supervisors on the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation is key to making sure supervisors understand your company’s policies, the law, and what’s expected and required of them to root out bad behavior.  For all but the smallest employers in California, training supervisors is required by law.

 

The required training is intended to accomplish the following goals:

  • assist employers in changing or modifying workplace behaviors that create or contribute to sexual harassment;
  • provide participants with information related to the negative effects of bullying; and
  • develop, foster, and encourage a set of values in supervisory employees that will assist them in preventing, effectively responding to incidents of sexual harassment, and implementing mechanisms to promptly address and correct wrongful behavior.

 

And the training is required to address the following topics:

  • information regarding the federal and state statutory provisions concerning the prohibition against and the prevention and correction of sexual harassment;
  • the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in employment;
  • information about the prevention of bullying in the workplace;
  • harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation; and
  • practical guidance and examples aimed at instructing supervisors in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Below is an outline of what’s required to be included in the training and who can lead the training.  For additional detail and before you launch your training, it’s recommend that you review the legal requirements (here and here) and the resources provided by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (here).  This overview is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not replace your review of the legal requirements.

Key Topics To Be Covered & Picking a Trainer

Harassment training for supervisors needs to include the following:

  • definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964;
  • statutes and case-law on prohibiting and preventing sexual harassment;
  • types of conduct that can be sexual harassment;
  • remedies available for victims of sexual harassment;
  • strategies to prevent sexual harassment;
  • supervisors’ obligation to report harassment;
  • practical examples of harassment;
  • specific examples regarding harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression;
  • the limited confidentiality of the complaint process;
  • resources for victims of sexual harassment, including how they should report it;
  • how employers must correct harassing behavior;
  • what to do if the supervisor is personally accused of harassment;
  • the elements of an effective anti-harassment policy and how to use it; and
  • information regarding bullying, including the definition of “abusive conduct” under the law, examples of bullying, and an explanation about the negative effects that bullying has on the victim of the conduct as well as others in the workplace.

The trainer, usually a lawyer or Human Resources professional with expertise in the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, must be able to address the following:

  • how to identify behavior that may constitute unlawful harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation under both California and federal law;
  • what steps to take when harassing behavior occurs in the workplace;
  • how to report harassment complaints;
  • supervisors’ obligation to report harassing, discriminatory, or retaliatory behavior of which they become aware;
  • how to respond to a harassment complaint;
  • the employer’s obligation to conduct a workplace investigation of a harassment complaint;
  • what constitutes retaliation and how to prevent it;
  • essential components of an anti-harassment policy; and
  • the effect of harassment on harassed employees, co-workers, harassers and employers.

Practical Tips To Maximize the Impact
of Your Training

Facebook’s trainers have trained thousands of people at Facebook and at other companies.  Below are some practical tips they’ve gathered aimed at maximizing the impact of your training.

  • Do the training in person, wherever possible.  Participants are more engaged and less distracted, it fuels discussion, and allows for organic questions and answers.
  • Limit the training to a manageable amount of participants.  With a smaller group, participants feel more comfortable asking questions.  We’ve found that a group of 50 or less is ideal.
  • Require all supervisors, not only those in California, to participate in your training.
  • After establishing a training for supervisors, consider making a non-supervisor version open to all employees.
  • Prepare hard copies of your harassment and related policies to bring to the training for participants to review, and build time into the training for participants to review the policies.
  • Facilitate discussion and encourage participants to ask questions.
  • Ask participants to put down their phones and close their laptops during the training.
  • In addition to covering sexual discrimination and harassment under federal and state law, we think it’s essential to provide definitions and train about other forms of discrimination and harassment covered by federal, state, and local law, and discuss how discrimination or harassment of an employee can cover more than one basis.
  • Discuss real world topics such as hugs, jokes, dating in the workplace, alcohol at work-related events, and offsite and after hours activities.
  • Use scenarios and practical examples to highlight the training material and to get employees to participate in discussions.

Common Questions by participants

Be prepared to answer these types of common questions.  Your answers may vary depending on your company’s policies.

  • Who can be liable for harassment?  Is there a difference for managers versus individual contributors?  Does intent matter?
  • What is the difference between discrimination and harassment?
  • What is the difference between our policy and the law?
  • Can a third party witness to harassing conduct complain?
  • How is bullying different than harassment?
  • It is harassment to ask someone on a date?  Can I date someone at work?
  • Can I tell someone they look nice at work?  Is it ok to hug someone?  What if my cultural norm is greet someone with a kiss on the cheek?
  • How does confidentiality work?  What if an employee shares something with me but tells me to keep it confidential?  Does it make a difference if I am their friend outside of work?
  • Can I be friends with my direct reports on social media?  Can I consider what I post on social media to be a personal matter only?
  • Does the law or our policy apply to offsites?  Can an employee be fired for something that happens on the weekend between him/her and a co-worker?
  • Does the law or our policies apply to contingent workers?  What if a vendor harasses an employee?
  • How does the policy apply to third parties who work with company employees, like clients?
  • When do I reach out to Human Resources or to our legal department?

 

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