Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Click on the link below:

Guidelines for individuals participating in NYS Prevention of sexual harassment Training using the PPC website.

You are using this format due to scheduling conflicts that preclude yourparticipation in the live zoom training session. Here we are endeavoring to replicate, as nearly as possible, the live group experience.

This format consists of five steps:

1.  Log onto the PPC website and select the Sexual Harassment Prevention Training segment.

2.  View the 20-minute video supplied by the NYS Health Department.

3.  Read the four case studies, give some thought to the issues involved, form your personal opinions or questions.
4.  Choose 2 of the 4 studies and express your thoughts about answering the questions of each you have chosen.  Send your notes, thoughts and question answers to both Doug Fox ( and to John Cox (

5.   Notify Brenda in the PPC Office that you have completed the above steps. 

Thank you for taking the time to complete this experience. It is a vital step in our congregation’s ongoing effort to ensure safety and respect for all who use our facilities. Your personal, prayerful participation is a meaningful part of this important endeavor.

Case Studies and Questions for Interactive Participation - Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

1. How should we handle a situation in which a victim reports an incident but wants to remain anonymous, or reports the incident but then changes his/her mind midway – for fear of retaliation by the perpetrator, or merely embarrassment?

        1. Who should interact with the victim to determine the next steps?

         2. Should the victim be obligated to continue with the complaint, or is it his/her right to make the choice?

         3. If this choice is left totally to the victim, how do we reconcile the fact that a potentially guilty abuser may be left free to harm others in                 the future? And, if that happens, would the Church bear responsibility for negligence?


2. The church’s Session has designated the pastor as head of staff, with the authority to hire and terminate employees.  (This is a longstanding practice, a carryover from the previous pastorate.)  When the Session adopted its workplace sexual harassment policy, it seemed natural to designate the pastor as the one to receive complaints of harassment.  Now, in advance of one employee’s upcoming annual performance review, the pastor is in a conundrum.  For months, the employee has acted toward the pastor in ways which clearly violate the workplace sexual harassment policy.  The Personnel Committee, a hybrid of the Session and the Board of Trustees, is not aware of the harassing behaviors or the pastor’s discomfort because the pastor has not disclosed having been a target.  (Since the harassment policy went into effect, there have been no accusations received by the pastor against this or any other person.)  In addition, the person’s work performance has not met reasonable job expectations, which the Committee will be able to recognize.  The pastor is considering another factor.  The employee is a member of the church, and part of a family which includes an influential lay leader.  


  1. What are the issues to consider?  Which is the issue of greatest priority? 
  2. Whose problem is this? 
  3. Whose problem should this be?  
  4. What is your advice to the pastor?  And what is your rationale? 


3. An adult layperson who attends Sunday worship, actively approaches other adults and, without seeking permission, hugs them in a full-body embrace.  Some find this innocent and friendly, others tolerate it, and some experience it as intrusive.  Some refer to the embraces as overly familiar and too physically intimate.  Because the individual has a slight intellectual impairment (s/he lives independently), people are unsure if the hugs are intended to be sexual or not.  No one knows the nature of the impairment.  Thus far, no staff person who is paid has experienced these embraces, while some congregants in unpaid lay leadership positions have.  No one has spoken to the individual about the behavior. 


  1. From the perspective of NY State law, does this behavior constitute sexual harassment?  Why or why not?  At what point is the NY State line crossed?
  2. Who is responsible for addressing the situation?  The pastor?  The Session?
  3. What are the legal obligations of the church leaders?  What are their options?
  4. Should church leaders factor-in the individual’s intellectual impairment?  If so, how? 
  5. What are the principles to apply regarding:  a.) documentation; b.) risk management; 

            c.) privacy vs. confidentiality (need to know); d.) disclosure to the congregation? 


4.  Leonard volunteers in the church office a few hours every week preparing bulletins and the newsletter. He likes to wear jewelry, and his attire frequently includes earrings and necklaces. A parishioner, Margaret, thinks it's “weird” that, as a man, Leonard wears jewelry and enjoys being a clerical worker. She frequently makes comments to other congregation members about Leonard’s appearance and her concern that it will “scare” away potential visitors to the church. Margaret tells Leonard that if he wants to volunteer in the church office, he had better look “more normal”.  Margaret also is “suspicious” that Leonard is gay, which she says she “doesn't mind.” She starts asking him questions about his private life, such as “Are you married?” “Do you have a partner?” ”Do you have kids?” Leonard tries to respond politely to all her questions but is becoming annoyed. Leonard is offended by Margaret’s remarks and asks the pastor to confront her.  


  1. Does this behavior constitute workplace sexual harassment?  Why or why not?  According to whose definition? 
  2. Leonard is identified as a volunteer.  Is this behavior sexual harassment if this Case identifies him as a staff member?  Is this behavior sexual harassment if Margaret is an employee?
  3. If Leonard is not offended by Margaret’s remarks, does this behavior constitute sexual harassment?
  4. Who is responsible for addressing the situation?  The pastor?  The Session?
  5. What are the legal obligations of the church leaders?  What are their options?