[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Wallkill 3-8-2001. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the policy of the Town of Wallkill to provide its employees with a work environment that is free from all forms of sexual harassment in the workplace.
No employee, male or female, may sexually harass any other employee of the opposite or same gender.
The Town of Wallkill will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of protected individual characteristics, such as race, religion, age, disability, etc. This policy is specifically addressed to sexual harassment and the town's policy of "zero tolerance" of sexual harassment of any employee. Sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the offending individual(s). In addition, appropriate administrative or disciplinary action may be taken against supervisory personnel who knowingly fail to timely report such conduct to the Town Supervisor after witnessing conduct in violation of this policy or after receiving a bona fide complaint from an employee.
In addition to stating the town's anti-sexual-harassment policy, this policy provides procedural information concerning the manner and means for employee(s) to make complaints regarding violation of the town's policy and to provide guidance for the handling of such complaints by the town department heads and supervisory personnel.
This policy and procedure apply to all employees of the Town of Wallkill, full-time and part-time. It is the responsibility of all town employees to strictly adhere to and enforce the town's prohibition of sexual harassment in the workplace. It is also the responsibility of supervisory personnel to be aware of and sensitive to conditions, situations or circumstances, which, left unresolved, could potentially rise to the level of sexual harassment in the workplace, and to take appropriate remedial action to address any such condition as soon as possible.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- A. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- (1) Submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; or
- (2) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
- (3) The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an affected person's work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
- B. Sexual harassment refers to behavior that is not welcome, that is personally offensive, that fails to respect the rights of others, that lowers morale or interferes with work effectiveness. Acts of sexual harassment include:
- (1) Making unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature a condition of an employee's employment; or
- (2) Making submission to or rejection of such conduct the basis for employment decisions affecting the employee; or
- (3) Creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment by such conduct.
- C. One specific form of harassment is the demand for sexual favors; other forms of harassment may include:
Employees are assured that they will not be retaliated against for raising a bona fide complaint of sexual harassment and that the matters raised in a complaint will be treated as confidentially as possible.
An employee who believes that (s)he is being sexually harassed or is the subject of conduct in violation of this policy, or who believes that (s)he has been retaliated against for opposing such harassment or who has witnessed such activity should immediately report the alleged acts of harassment to the Town Supervisor. If a complaint involves such actions allegedly committed by the Town Supervisor, the complaint should be made directly with the Deputy Town Supervisor.
An allegation of sexual harassment may be made either orally or in writing.
All complaints received will be investigated promptly and in a confidential manner. Any employee possessing information about sexual harassment in the workplace, whether directed at the employee herself or himself, or directed at a coworker, is encouraged to make any such information known to the Town Supervisor. Publicizing information about alleged harassment without following the reporting procedures or filing a formal complaint may be considered evidence of a vexatious intent on part of the accuser.
Upon receiving a complaint or a report of sexual harassment, the Town Supervisor will cause an investigation to begin by having interviews conducted of the parties and the potential witnesses as soon as possible. Interviews with each party and each witness shall be conducted separately and in a confidential manner, to the extent possible.
The employee filing the complaint has the right to meet privately during working hours with the Town Supervisor; however, the employee should receive approval from a work supervisor before leaving his or her work assignment for the purpose of attending such interview. The employee need not disclose the purpose of the meeting. Reasonable requests to meet with the Town Supervisor cannot be denied, and the employee shall be excused to attend the interview at the earliest practicable time consistent with the operational needs of the town. When necessary to ensure confidentiality, the interview may be conducted off workplace premises, either before or after working hours or during lunch period. At the request of the employee furnishing information, a female or male interviewer, as the case may be, can be arranged by the town.
The Town Supervisor will review any documentary and/or physical evidence presented, and any other record of the interview. The investigation and interviews will be conducted in a confidential manner, which means that information obtained from an employee at such interview shall not be discussed with other persons except as necessary to investigate and/or resolve a complaint of harassment.
Any person interviewed during the course of an investigation is entitled to be accompanied by a union representative or designated legal counsel of his or her choice consistent with current practice.
A person who participates in this procedure may do so without fear of retaliation.
Workplace supervisors must:
Deal expeditiously and fairly with incidents of discrimination, sexual harassment and/or sexually oriented conduct which may lead to harassment, whether or not there has been a written or formal complaint.
Act promptly to ensure that discrimination and/or harassment is reported to the Town Supervisor.
Follow the recommendation of the Town Supervisor, including any corrective action or other action to prevent prohibited conduct from reoccurring.
Ensure that an employee who makes a complaint or otherwise participates in the procedures described herein is not the subject of retaliation.
Workplace supervisors who knowingly allow or tolerate sexual harassment are in violation of this policy and subject to discipline.
Upon conclusion of the investigation, the Town Supervisor will prepare a confidential written report that contains a finding whether the complaint was substantiated or unsubstantiated.
If the finding is that the complaint is substantiated, the written report will state recommended corrective actions, including, where found, appropriate recommended relief for the employee who filed the complaint, recommended disciplinary action to be taken against the offending employee and/or recommendations for action to end the conduct or actions, which may include changes in town policy or practice.
Upon the completion of the written report, the Town Supervisor will meet with the complaining employee to advise whether the complaint was found to be substantiated or unsubstantiated. If the complaint was found substantiated, the Town Supervisor will advise the complaining employee of the recommended corrective action.
Following this meeting, the Town Supervisor will promptly take action designed to stop the discriminatory acts (harassment) and to prevent its reoccurrence. This action will also include measures designed to address the impact that the discriminatory conduct may have on the employee who was the subject of the harassment. Employee(s) who are determined to be in violation of the town's policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action that may include termination of employment.
Any disciplinary action taken will be consistent with the applicable provisions of the applicable collective bargaining agreement and/or law(s) governing employee discipline.
If the Town Supervisor determines that the complaint is not substantiated, the employee has the right to appeal the determination in writing to the Town Board.
Upon receipt of the appeal, all information obtained in the investigation shall be forwarded to the Town Board in an envelope clearly marked "Personal and Highly Confidential."
Upon a prompt and thorough consideration of the investigative file, the Town Board shall make a determination on the employee's appeal to uphold, reverse or modify the determination. The Town Supervisor shall not participate in the Town Board's determination of the appeal, except for purposes of responding to requests for information by the Town Board.
All parties shall be promptly notified in writing of the determination on appeal. The notification of such determination shall be sent in envelopes marked "Personal and Highly Confidential" to ensure confidentiality.
If upon investigation a complaint is found to be reckless, frivolous or vexatious, appropriate action will be taken to address such misconduct.
No record of a complaint shall kept in the complaining employee's personnel file, unless the investigation concludes that the complaint was reckless, frivolous or vexatious.
All information pertaining to a discrimination and/or sexual harassment complaint or investigation shall be separately maintained by the department in secure files.
Employees are reminded that a charge of discriminatory conduct covered by this policy and procedure may be filed with the Town of Wallkill Human Rights Commission, the New York State Human Rights Commission or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Such charge may be filed regardless of whether the employee has utilized the complaint and investigation procedure stated in the policy and procedure. There are time limits that apply to the filing of a charge with either administrative agency, and those time limits apply whether or not the employee files a complaint under this policy and procedure. Employees are advised to consult with an attorney or directly with either administrative agency regarding the agency procedure and applicable time limits.
Employees having any questions concerning the town's strict prohibition against sexual harassment in the workplace or the procedures described in this policy are encouraged to direct any such questions to the Town Supervisor.