The Town of Massena believes in the dignity of the individual and recognizes the right of any person to equal opportunities. In this regard, the Town has had a long-standing practice of protecting and safeguarding the rights and opportunities of any person who might seek or obtain employment without being subjected to illegal discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
In addition to prohibiting illegal discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, age, disability, marital status, military status, national origin, or other unlawful conduct, the Town of Massena also prohibits the illegal harassment of its employees or officers in any form. The Town will take all steps necessary to prevent and stop the occurrence of any illegal discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
This policy applies to all Town officers and employees and all individuals who serve as contractors to the Town. Depending on the extent of the exercise of control, this policy may be applied to the conduct of those who are not officers or employees or contractors of the Town with respect to illegal discrimination or illegal harassment of Town officers or employees in the workplace.
The Town and this discrimination and harassment policy prohibit conduct that is illegal under state or federal law, including, but not limited to, the inappropriate forms of behavior described on page 2 of this policy under the section entitled "Definition of Sexual Harassment."
Department heads and supervisory personnel are responsible for ensuring a work environment free from unsolicited, unwelcome and intimidating unlawful discrimination or harassment. These individuals must take immediate and, if authorized, appropriate corrective action, when allegations of discrimination or harassment come to their attention, to assure compliance with this policy. Should a department head or supervisor not be authorized to take corrective action, the matter shall be referred to the individual or body, as the case may be, having the authority to discipline.
A person who is found to have committed an act of unlawful discrimination or harassment or other inappropriate behavior will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the provisions of a negotiated labor agreement or state law, as may be appropriate. Additionally, retaliation against someone who has complained about discrimination or harassment is strictly prohibited as is retaliation against an individual who cooperates with an investigation of a discrimination or harassment complaint. Any such retaliatory conduct is illegal and will result in disciplinary action against the retaliator, if that person is an officer or employee of the Town. Intimidation, coercion, threats, reprisals, or discrimination against any person for complaining about unlawful discrimination or harassment, as described in this policy, is prohibited.
All Town officers and employees will be held responsible and accountable for avoiding or eliminating the conduct prohibited by this policy. Town employees are encouraged to report violations of this policy to their Supervisor or to a member of the Employment Discrimination/Harassment Committee. This committee shall consist of three members of the Town Council to be appointed annually by the Supervisor.
Sexual advances that are not welcome, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct with sexual overtones constitute sexual harassment when:
Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual's employment;
Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions such as promotion, transfer, or termination, affecting such individual; or
Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment refers to behavior that an individual does not welcome; that is personally offensive; that fails to respect the rights of others; that lowers morale and that, therefore, interferes with an individual's work performance and effectiveness; or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Specific forms of behavior that the Town would consider sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the following:
Verbal harassment. Abusive verbal language related to a person's sex, including sexual innuendoes; slurs; suggestive, derogatory, or insulting comments or sounds; whistling; jokes of a sexual nature; sexual propositions; and threats. Included would be any sexual advance that is unwelcome or any demand for sexual favors.
Nonverbal harassment. Abusive written language, showing or displaying pornographic or sexually explicit objects or pictures, graphic commentaries, leering or obscene gestures in the workplace such that it unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Physical harassment. Any physical contact which is not welcome, including touching, petting, pinching, coerced sexual intercourse, assault, or persistent brushing up against a person's body.
Any Town officer or employee is encouraged to report an incident of suspected employment discrimination or harassment to a department head and/or to the Employment Discrimination/Harassment Committee as soon as possible after an alleged incident. A victim does not have to be the opposite sex of the harasser. The harasser does not have to be the victim's immediate supervisor. The harasser could be an agent of a supervisor, another supervisor, a co-worker, or even someone not on the payroll of the Town who might have occasion to appear at a work site or enter a Town building or facility. A victim of sexual harassment does not necessarily have to be the person at whom unwelcome sexual conduct is directed. Such an individual could be someone who is affected by such conduct when it is directed toward another person, thereby creating a hostile work environment. Such conduct is unlawful and is prohibited by the Town and by this policy.
Should an officer or employee believe that he or she has been discriminated against or harassed and would like guidance as to how to proceed in filing a complaint, that individual should review the Town's employment discrimination and harassment complaint procedure or contact any member of the Employment Discrimination/Harassment Committee.
Should an individual file a complaint, the procedures of the Employment Discrimination/Harassment Committee must be followed, Including the time limit of 180 days. The Employment Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Procedure is attached. It describes the procedural steps to be taken when an employee has filed a complaint, details the responsibilities of all involved parties, and provides the time frames for action to be taken.
Editor's Note: The complaint procedure and forms are included at the end of this chapter.
All complaints will be handled in a timely and confidential manner. In no event will information concerning a complaint be released by the Town to any third party or to anyone within Town employment who is not directly involved with or in the investigation. A breach of this prohibition will result in disciplinary action.
The investigation of a complaint will normally include conferring with the parties involved and any named or apparent witnesses. The particular facts of the allegation will be examined individually with a review of the nature of the behavior and the context in which the incident or incidents occurred. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigatory process. The Employment Discrimination/Harassment Committee will also investigate cases in which a Supervisor requests or requires assistance.
An individual who believes that he or she has been unjustly charged with employment discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy will be afforded every opportunity to offer and present information in defense of the complaint. Any information will be confidential.
A person who participates in this procedure may do so without fear of retaliation. Retaliation against anyone who has filed a complaint under this policy is prohibited and may well be a violation of federal or state law. Any such retaliation will result in disciplinary action by the Town.
A person who is found to have committed an act of employment discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the provisions of a negotiated labor agreement or state law, as may be appropriate.