[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Closter 7-24-1996 by Ord. No. 1996:721. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Borough of Closter expressly prohibits any form of sexual harassment. Improper interference with the ability of employees to perform their expected job duties will not be tolerated. It is Borough of Closter policy that all employees have a right to work in an environment free of discrimination, which encompasses freedom from sexual harassment. The Borough of Closter strongly disapproves of sexual harassment of its employees, in any form, and states that all employees at all levels of the Borough of Closter must avoid offensive or inappropriate sexual and/or sexually harassing behavior at work and will be held responsible for ensuring that the workplace is free from sexual harassment. All employees, female or male, shall be permitted to work in an environment free from all forms of unlawful discrimination and conduct which can be considered harassing, coercive or disruptive, including sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct which undermines the integrity of the employment relationship. Sexual harassment debilitates morale and interferes with work productivity and, therefore, will not be tolerated.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- SEXUAL ASSAULT
- Includes gross sexual imposition such as touching, fondling, grabbing or assault.
- SEXUAL BRIBERY
- Includes solicitation of sexual activity or other sex-linked behavior by promise of reward.
- SEXUAL COERCION
- Includes coercion of sexual activity by threat of punishment.
- SEXUAL HARASSMENT
- Includes any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct based on gender when:
- A. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's employment;
- B. Submission or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting that person;
- C. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person's work performance; or
- D. Such conduct creates an intimidating or offensive work environment.
The borough policy prohibits unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual acts or favors with or without accompanying promises, threats or reciprocal favors or actions; or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of adversely affecting an employee's performance or which creates a hostile or offensive working environment. Examples of prohibited conduct include but are not limited to lewd or sexually suggestive comments; slurs and other verbal, graphic or physical conduct relating to an individual's sex; or any display of sexually explicit pictures, greeting cards, articles, comic books, magazines, photos or cartoons.
In order to ensure the integrity of the work environment, supervisory personnel are required to ensure adherence to and compliance with this policy and, upon being informed of possible sexual harassment, are required to take appropriate immediate action in response, including informing employees of their right to file a discrimination complaint with the Administrator.
Employees are encouraged, whether directly or through a third party, to notify the alleged harasser that the behavior in question is offensive and unwelcome. However, failure to do so does not preclude filing a complaint. Employees are encouraged to promptly report all alleged incidents of sexual harassment to the Administrator.
Who may file.
Any borough employee who feels that he or she has been the victim of sexual harassment, or who witnessed acts of sexual harassment against a fellow employee of the borough, may file a complaint of sexual harassment with the following persons in the following order:
Any filing of a complaint against a person other than the complainant's department head must be accompanied by a statement that the person to whom the complaint should otherwise be addressed in accordance with the list hereinabove cannot, according to the complainant, be objective about the sexual harassment charge the complainant wishes to file.
Contents of complaint.
The initial complaint may be made orally or in writing. If the complaint is made orally, the Borough Administrator or the alternate officer shall reduce the same to a written document, which shall, if it is deemed accurate, be signed by the complainant. The complaint must include the following information:
The name, department and position or title of the complainant.
The name, department and position or title of the charged party.
The date, time, nature and circumstances, in detail, of each instance of alleged sexual harassment, including but not limited to the injuries or consequences suffered by the complainant, the names of any witnesses to such actions and the duration of the actions at issue.
Whether such harassment has been previously reported and, if so, the date and to whom it was reported.
Nothing in this section shall prevent the complainant from providing other information or documents he or she believes are essential to the fair adjudication of his or her case.
Investigation of filed complaint. The Borough Administrator is hereby designated as the sexual harassment officer. The Borough Clerk of the borough is hereby designated as the alternate officer. Persons who, by reason of the circumstances, are uncomfortable directing a complaint to the Administrator may report the same to the alternate officer. The Borough Administrator or alternate officer shall be responsible for the prompt and thorough investigation of each claim. The investigation shall be completed within five business days of filing of the complaint, and a written report of the investigation shall be forwarded to the Mayor within seven days of the completion of the investigation. A copy of the report shall be furnished to the complainant. It shall be the duty of the person responsible for the investigate to:
To the extent possible, the sexual harassment investigative proceedings will be conducted in manner to protect the confidentiality of the complainant, the alleged harasser and all witnesses. All parties involved in the proceedings will be advised to maintain strict confidentiality from the initial meeting to the final decision, to safeguard the privacy and reputation of all involved. The investigation shall make every attempt to maintain the confidentiality of the information provided to the investigator.
A finding of no probable cause as a result of an investigation does not necessarily establish that an accusation is false. However, this policy shall not be used to intentionally bring frivolous or malicious charges against an employee.
Standard for determination of guilt. The Borough Administrator or the alternate officer shall determine that a charged party is not guilty of the offense of sexual harassment unless he/she/they find, based on the investigation and hearing, in the case of an appeal, that substantial, credible evidence supports the conclusion that:
If the validity of the complaint cannot be determined, immediate and appropriate action will be taken to assure that all parties are reacquainted with the sexual harassment policy so as to prevent sexual harassment in the future.
In the event of an appeal, the Borough Administrator or the alternate officer shall be permitted to impose the following penalties or conditions of employment upon a borough employee found to have committed the offense of sexual harassment:
Any disciplinary action shall be consistent with applicable collective bargaining agreements and any applicable borough personnel code provisions.
Appeal to the Mayor and Council. A complainant or charged party may appeal the determination of the Borough Administrator to the Mayor and Council. The appealing party must file a request for an appeal in writing with the Borough Administrator within 10 days of the determination of the Borough Administrator stating why the determination of the Borough Administrator should be overturned. The party not appealing shall have the option of submitting, within 10 days of the filing of the request for an appeal, a statement explaining why the determination of the Borough Administrator should be affirmed. The determination by the Mayor and Council shall be a final action.
To the extent permitted by law, the borough will not be liable for damages obtained as a result of a decision of a nonlocal agency or court of superior administrative remedies described herein.
Retaliation. It shall be a violation of this policy for any employee to take reprisals against any person because she/he has filed a complaint or testified or assisted in any proceeding under this policy. Threats, other forms of intimidation, and/or retaliation against the complainant or any other party based on involvement in the complaint process may be cause for disciplinary action. There will be no retaliation against employees for reporting sexual harassment or assisting the borough in the investigation of a complaint. However, if after investigating any complaint of harassment or unlawful discrimination the borough learns that the complaint is not bona fide or that an employee has provided false information regarding the complaint, disciplinary action may be taken against the individual who provided the false information.
False accusations. Since a charge of sexual harassment is a grave and serious one, false accusations of sexual harassment are, and will be treated as, a disciplinary offense and will result in a level of punishment appropriate for a person actually engaging in such behavior.
A person who knowingly and/or recklessly fails to give truthful testimony to the Administrator shall also be guilty of having made false accusations.
A copy of the sexual harassment policy will be distributed to all township employees and will be posted in a prominent place in the Closter Municipal Building.
Employees of the borough shall be provided with training, by a person trained to lead or implement such training, which shall include a detailed discussion of the following:
A detailed explanation of what constitutes sexual harassment.
The procedures for filing a sexual harassment charge.
The procedures to be followed in the investigation of a sexual harassment charge.
Management's obligation regarding incidents of sexual harassment.