[Adopted 10-7-1998 by Ord. No. 98-25; amended in its entirety 4-5-2000 by Ord. No. 2000-4]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Art. VIII, Sexual Harassment, adopted 12-6-1989.
It is the policy of the City of Ithaca, in its capacity as an employer, to provide and maintain a work environment which is free from unlawful discrimination. Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination and is prohibited in each and every City work environment and each and every situation which directly impacts a City work environment.
The City of Ithaca considers sexual harassment to be a form of employee misconduct and considers this type of misconduct to be a serious offense. Allegations of sexual harassment will be investigated thoroughly and, if substantiated, will be met with appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action commensurate with the seriousness of the offense(s), up to and including discharge.
According to Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, "sexual harassment" is defined as follows.
The City of Ithaca hereby adopts the above definition of sexual harassment. The definition applies to the conduct of a supervisor towards a subordinate; the conduct of one employee towards another employee; the conduct of an employee towards a job applicant; and the conduct of a nonemployee towards a City employee.
Examples of sexual harassment. Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:
Abusive verbal language related to an employee's sex, sexual innuendoes, jokes and other sexually suggestive comments or references to sex or gender-specific traits.
Abusive written notes, email, graffiti, telephone calls or facsimiles that are sexual in nature.
Sexual propositions, insults or threats.
Persistent unwanted sexual/romantic attention.
Leering, whistling or other sexually suggestive or insulting sounds or gestures.
Displaying pictures, calendars, cartoons or other material with sexual content.
Coerced or unwelcome touching, patting, brushing up against, pinching, kissing, stroking, massaging, squeezing or tickling.
Subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors.
Coerced sexual intercourse (e.g., as a condition of employment.
Questions about the policy. If any City employee or officer is subject to, or witnesses, a situation which he or she believes constitutes sexual harassment or has any questions about the City sexual harassment policy or on how to proceed, the employee should contact the Human Resources Department.
The City of Ithaca has a commitment to respect the privacy and anonymity of both victims and accused harassers, within legal constraints. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigatory process to the extent practical and appropriate under the circumstances.
All individuals who are involved in the complaint and/or investigation process are obliged to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings. The maintenance of confidentiality does not mean that the accused will not be made aware of the complaint and its specifics.
Reporting complaints. Any City officer or employee is required to report an incident of suspected harassment or employment discrimination to his or her supervisor, department head or the Director of Human Resources as soon as possible after an alleged incident. The person reporting the harassment does not have to be the intended target of the harassment. When a supervisor or department head receives a complaint, he or she will contact the Human Resources Department immediately to determine how to investigate and address the complaint.
Types of complaints.
Informal complaints. Some situations may be resolved in an informal manner by the department head or supervisor without the need for a formal complaint and investigation. Disciplinary action may not be taken against the alleged harasser without a formal complaint being filed, and a finding, after investigation, that there is probable cause to believe harassment occurred.
Formal complaint. A formal complaint must be in writing and must include the act(s) complained about, identify the person or persons alleged to have committed such act(s) and indicate the approximate dates, if known, when the act(s) occurred. Employees and officers can fill out the form themselves or ask for help from their supervisor, department head or the Human Resources Director. A formal complaint shall be filed with the Department of Human Resources.
Once a formal complaint has been received, the Human Resources Director will commence a prompt investigation of the allegations in the complaint and will report the results of the investigation to the complainant's department head or to the Mayor, as appropriate. The investigation should be concluded within 60 days of the filing of the formal complaint. The investigation may be expanded if more allegations are uncovered during the investigation.
The investigation may include but is not limited to:
Identifying the alleged harasser.
Separately interviewing the complainant and/or witnesses.
Meeting with the person accused to inform her/him of the complaint and informing her/him that retaliation is prohibited.
Interviewing the accused person regarding the allegations.
Interviewing witnesses provided by the accused person.
Determining whether or not there is probable cause to believe that the allegations are true.
Prompt reporting of a complaint is strongly encouraged as it allows for rapid response to and resolution of objectionable behavior. Complaints should be filed within one year of the alleged harassment.
Protection from retaliation. Federal and state law and City of Ithaca policy prohibit any form of retaliation against a person who files a discrimination complaint or is a witness in a discrimination complaint procedure.
Unfounded complaints. If, after an investigation, a complaint is determined to be unfounded, the Human Resources Director will inform the complainant(s) and the accused that the complaint is unfounded. The Human Resources Department will maintain a confidential record of the investigation.
Complaint founded. If a complaint is founded, the Human Resources Director and the Department Head or Mayor will meet with the person accused and his/her union representative, if the accused is represented, and explain the findings of the investigation. The accused will have an opportunity to accept the findings and any corrective and/or disciplinary action, or to oppose the findings and file a grievance through his/her collective bargaining unit. The Human Resources Department will maintain a confidential record of the investigation.
In the event that either the employee alleging sexual harassment or the employee being charged with sexual harassment is not covered by a labor contract, he/she may exercise his/her appeal rights provided for by Civil Service Law, § C-26.1 of the City Charter or Article I of Chapter 90 of the Code of the City of Ithaca, as appropriate.
Corrective and disciplinary action. Corrective and disciplinary action for sexual harassment may include any or all of the following: attending individualized training; verbal warning; written reprimand; work restrictions, salary reduction or limitation; suspension; dismissal.
Filing complaints with outside agents. This internal complaint and investigation process does not substitute for or remove the rights of employees or officers to bring charges of sexual harassment with local, federal and state agencies. Those agencies have specific time limits within which complaints can be brought, and employees or officers should consult each agency as to the proper procedure or time limit.
Support services. Individuals involved in sexual harassment complaints are encouraged to seek assistance through the Employee Assistance Program or the Human Resources Department.
All managerial and supervisory staff of the City of Ithaca shall be responsible for enforcing this policy and shall have particular responsibility for ensuring that the work environment under their supervision is free from sexual harassment and its effects.
All managerial and supervisory staff who receive sexual harassment complaints will be responsible for immediately forwarding such complaints to either their department head or the Director of Human Resources for investigation.
The City shall conduct training for managerial and supervisory staff in each department on the issues surrounding sexual harassment, its effects and its appearances and the role and responsibility of supervisory personnel in preventing incidents of sexual harassment and resolving sexual harassment complaints.
The City shall also distribute this policy to all City employees and conspicuously post this policy at all City work sites. Copies of this policy will also be distributed to new employees as they are hired who will be required to sign a statement that they have read and understood the policy. The City shall also conduct training for all City employees on the concept and definition of sexual harassment, the issues surrounding it and ways in which to deal with sexual harassment.
Severability is intended throughout and within the provisions of this article. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of this article is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, then that decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this article.