[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Manchester 10-11-1994 (Ch. 39, Art. II, of the 1989 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the policy of the Town of Manchester to provide public programs and services and to hire and promote employees to deliver those programs and services on a nondiscriminatory basis. Underlying this policy is the belief that fair and meritorious treatment of people is at the heart of a free society, and the government has a primary responsibility to lead by example in such treatment. Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it "an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's sex." Such discrimination is also made unlawful by state law (Executive Law, Article 15, Human Rights Law). One form of such discrimination is sexual harassment, which undermines the integrity of the employment relationship and the dignity of individual employees, impairs the efficiency and productivity of employees in delivering Town programs and services and erodes public confidence in government. The purpose of this statement is to set forth the policy prohibiting sexual harassment and also to set forth the procedures for handling complaints of sexual harassment.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any of the following penalties: a written reprimand, suspension without pay, fine, loss of accrued leave credit, demotion or termination.
- All paid full-time, part-time and seasonal employees of the Town of Manchester, including employees performing managerial, supervisory or operational functions, including elective officers.
- SEXUAL HARASSMENT
- Conduct directed at a particular person consisting of unwelcome words or actions of a sexual nature, such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or gender-specific expressions of disrespect or disparagement, when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual's securing or continuing employment, submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual or such conduct, provided that it is sufficiently severe or pervasive, has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
The Town shall create a work environment characterized by cooperation, competence and professionalism among employees. Sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct that both violates fundamental principles of our society as embodied in federal and state statutes and also diminishes the desired work environment and is therefore prohibited. Any employee guilty of such misconduct shall be subject to appropriate discipline arrived at in accordance with procedures collectively bargained, where applicable, or otherwise established by law. Employees are encouraged to make complaints as soon as possible about sexual harassment without fear of retaliation. Whenever such a complaint is received, it shall be thoroughly investigated and promptly resolved, in accordance with the procedures established herein.
An employee who believes he or she may be the victim of sexual harassment may consult with the Affirmative Action Officer or Town Supervisor. An employee who pursues this course of action is not thereby required to make a complaint or precluded from making a complaint according to the procedures prescribed in § 74-4.
Nothing in this policy is intended to preclude prosecution for criminal acts under the New York State Penal Law or commencement of a civil action seeking monetary damages for violation of federal, civil or constitutional rights against the individual who has violated those rights. Although not the primary purpose, this policy is intended to limit the civil liability of the Town government by making it clear that the Town does not condone sexual harassment and has formalized an effective process for the receipt and resolution of sexual harassment complaints.
When an employee believes he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment, he or she shall make a complaint within 15 working days of its occurrence.
The complainant shall make the complaint verbally or in writing to his or her department head, unless the department head is alleged to have committed the conduct or the complainant has some other valid reason for bypassing the department head, in which case the complaint as well as the reason for bypassing the department head shall be made to the Affirmative Action Officer or Town Supervisor.
The complaint shall consist of specific factual allegations concerning words or actions directed towards the complainant, the manner in which the complainant indicated the words or actions were unwelcome and the impact upon the complainant's employment or working environment.
The department head shall discuss the complaint as soon as possible with the person alleged to have committed the conduct and attempt to resolve the problem within one week to the satisfaction of both the complainant and the person. If such a resolution is achieved, the department head shall note the details of the resolution, which shall be maintained confidentially by the department head.
If the problem cannot be resolved as indicated in Subsection D, the department head, with the advice of the Town Attorney, shall investigate the complaint completely within two weeks. The department head shall make a full written record of the investigation.
As a result of his or her investigation, the department head, with the advice of the Town Attorney, shall determine whether sexual harassment has occurred. In making such a determination, the department head shall consider the totality of the circumstances, including the specific conduct and its context, whether the complainant indicated the conduct was unwelcome and the credibility of the parties.
If the department head determines that sexual harassment has occurred, he or she shall institute disciplinary action in accordance with procedures collectively bargained, when appropriate, or otherwise established by law.
The complainant shall be informed of the disposition of his or her complaint, and persons identified above shall be informed of the disposition of all complaints, whether by informal resolution or disciplinary action.
A complainant may appeal an unfavorable determination by a department head to a panel consisting of the Town Administrator or his/her deputy, a representative of the Town Attorney's office and a third person appointed by the Town Administrator either from among department and bureau heads or from any source of his/her choosing. At least one member of the panel shall be a person of the same sex as the complainant. The panel shall review the investigatory record, may interview the parties and may direct the institution of disciplinary action.
The Town Board shall coordinate periodical training programs for all personnel regarding what constitutes sexual harassment as well as the implementation of this policy and its procedures.