Monday, October 15, 2018

Hey Fletch … I am doing research to update our policy manual and personnel handbook. What policies can you point me to that pertain to allegations toward a staff person about physical, verbal or safety improprieties?

DRF—What a week to get this question! Bill Cosby was sentenced and Brett Kavanaugh was in the Senate confirmation hearings. You are hitting a challenging issue in America today.

Here are some resources on XPastor that may be of help. What you will find is various statements of how each church will investigate allegations of misconduct. Learn from these. Craft a policy that is clear. Set a process of how incidents are to be reported, who will investigate them and how the issue will be handled. The links will give you the full text.

Parma Heights has a policy document that says: “Parma Heights Baptist Church has instituted the following three-step procedure for reporting and investigating allegations of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment.”

Foothills Christian Church has a document that says: “All incidents of prohibited harassment that are reported will be investigated. The church will immediately undertake or direct an effective, thorough, and objective investigation of the harassment allegations. The investigation will be completed and a determination regarding the reported harassment will be made and communicated to the staff member who complained and to the accused harasser(s).”

“If the church determines that prohibited harassment has occurred, the church will take effective immediate action commensurate with the circumstances. Appropriate action will also be taken to deter any future harassment. If a complaint of prohibited harassment is substantiated, appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including discharge, will be taken. Whatever action is taken against the harasser will be communicated to the staff member who complained.”

Seven Mile Road Church says about sexual harassment investigation: “When we receive the complaint, we will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. The investigation will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. Our investigation will include a private interview with the person filing the complaint and with witnesses. We will also interview the person alleged to have committed sexual harassment. When we have completed our investigation, we will, to the extent appropriate, inform the person filing the complaint and the person alleged to have committed the conduct of the results of that investigation.”

“If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct, and where it is appropriate we will also impose disciplinary action.”

I would add to these a policy on when an external investigator should be used. Several churches have attempted internal investigations of sexual misconduct, only to find that their work was flawed.