[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Blairstown as Ch. XXIII (Ord. No. 93-06) of the 1977 Revised General Ordinances. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following words shall have these specific definitions:
- CHARGED PARTY
- Any person, including a Township employee against whom a charge of sexual harassment is filed.
- Any Township employee who brings or files a charge of sexual harassment.
- HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT HARASSMENT
- A factual finding by the hearing administrator that a charged party has committed an offense or offenses rising to the level of sexual harassment, to wit: through severe and pervasive verbal and/or physical conduct of a patently offensive nature not welcomed by the complainant not only created a work environment that would interfere with the performance and psychological well-being of a reasonable person of the same sex but also specifically offended and injured the complainant; said harassment being considered a type of sexual harassment.
- The person supervising or administering the investigation regarding a sexual harassment complaint or complaints. Normally, this shall be the Township Clerk, unless circumstances dictate otherwise.
- QUID PRO QUO HARASSMENT
- Factual finding by the hearing administrator that a charged party has committed an offense or offenses rising to the level of sexual harassment, to wit: made unwelcome sexual advances motivated by sexual desires upon a complainant, where the reaction of the complainant to the advance affected a tangible aspect of the terms of their employment with the Township. Said harassment being considered a type of sexual harassment.
- Any act of any Township official taken to punish, discourage or intimidate those persons who have or may either become a complainant or assist in the investigation of a legitimate sexual harassment complaint.
- SEXUAL HARASSMENT
- Includes the following:
- A. Any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- (1) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's employment: or
- (2) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting that person: or
- (3) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person's work performance; or
- B. Hostile work environment harassment; and
- C. Quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Any Township employee who feels that they have been the victim of sexual harassment, or who witnessed acts of sexual harassment against a fellow employee of the Township and has the consent of that employee, may file a complaint of sexual harassment with the following persons, but solely in the specific order listed below:
Any filing of a complaint to a person other than the complainant's direct supervisor must be accompanied by a statement that the persons to whom the complaint should otherwise be addressed, pursuant to the list above, cannot, in the mind of the complainant, be objective about the sexual harassment charge the complainant wishes to file.
The complaint filed 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 nature and circumstances, in detail, of the 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 questioned; and
Whether such harassment has been previously reported to the supervisor or other person, and if so, when and to whom.
Nothing in this section shall prevent the complainant from providing other information or documents he/she or she believes are essential to the fair adjudication of their case.
The filing may be made orally or in writing. If same is made orally, the person receiving the complaint shall reduce same to a writing, which shall, if it is deemed accurate, be signed by the complainant.
A complaint of sexual harassment shall be investigated pursuant to the following regulations:
The Township Clerk, or her/his appointed designee (if the complainant by his choice of filing pursuant to § 46-2, or because the claim involves the administrator, has declared apparent nonobjectivity of the administrator), shall be responsible for the prompt and thorough investigation of each claim.
The investigation shall be begun and completed within three business days of the receipt of the complaint by the Clerk or her/his appointed designee, and the result of the investigation forwarded to the Hearing Board, as defined in § 46-5 within seven days of the completion of the investigation.
It shall be the duty of the person responsible for the investigation to:
Interview the complainant in detail;
Interview all potential witnesses, including those who may have knowledge of similar incidents;
Interview the charged party in detail;
Review municipal files for similar incidents involving the complainant and the charged party; and
Assess the presence or absence of corroborative evidence for either party.
There shall be created for the Township a Sexual Harassment Hearing Board (the "Hearing Board"), which shall consist of three members, one member to be chosen by the Mayor, one member to be chosen by the Township Committee and one member to be chosen by the nonmanagement employees of the Township from among those employees by secret ballot. The Mayor shall not be permitted to choose himself or herself, nor may the Committee choose any person holding a Committee seat. The person chosen to serve on the Hearing Board by the nonmanagement employees shall chair the Hearing Board and shall organize and lead all meetings of that body.
There shall be an administrative hearing of the complaint, pursuant to the following rules:
Within 20 days of the completion of the investigation by the Township Clerk or her/his appointed designee, the Chair of the Hearing Board shall convene that Board to hold a hearing in reference to that sexual harassment allegation.
The hearing shall be tape recorded, and upon written request the Township Clerk shall provide a transcript to any parties to the proceedings requesting same at a nominal expense to the party requesting said transcript.
The charged party shall be notified, in writing, of the hearing date at least 10 days before the hearing and provided with a copy of the complaint filed against them.
The charged party shall be entitled to request and receive one postponement in order to obtain legal counsel, but in no event shall the hearing occur more than 35 days after the completion of the investigation described above.
The hearing shall be deemed a quasi-judicial procedure and the charged party shall be entitled to state all defenses, enter relevant evidence, call witnesses on his or her behalf and confront all witnesses against him/her or her, including the complainant. Should the complainant fail to appear at the hearing, the charged party shall be entitled to have the complaint against him/her or her dismissed.
The hearing shall occur only in the presence of the Township Attorney, or other designated legal counsel, who shall participate in such hearings in order to assure confidentiality, resolve disputes concerning the introduction of evidence and prepare a complete and accurate record.
The Hearing Board shall determine, and so declare in writing, within five business days the guilt or innocence of the charged party, and if it finds the charged party guilty of the offense of sexual harassment, it shall recommend an appropriate remedial action to be imposed upon the charged party.
Where the charged party is cleared of the charges alleged against him/her or her, or the evidence presented is inconclusive as to whether acts of sexual harassment occurred, the Hearing Board shall notify all parties that it has reached such a decision.
The Hearing Board shall maintain a complete file of all documents received in reference to any complaint for a period of not less than five years from the date of its final decision.
The Hearing Board shall determine that a charged party is not guilty of the offense of sexual harassment unless it finds, based upon the testimony provided to it by the investigation and hearing, that substantial, credible evidence supports the conclusion that:
A complainant or charged party who desires to appeal the decision of the Hearing Board may appeal to the Township Committee. The appealing party must appeal in writing to the Township Clerk within 10 days of the date of the written decision of the Hearing Board, informing the Township Clerk of his or her desire to appeal and stating why the decision of the Hearing Board should be overturned.
The party not appealing shall also have the option of submitting, within 20 days subsequent to the written decision of the Hearing Board, a writing stating why the Hearing Board decision should be affirmed.
The appealing party shall provide, at his or her own expense a copy of the transcript prepared from the tape recording of the hearing before the Hearing Board for each member of the Committee.
The Committee will not hear witnesses, take testimony or accept additional documentation in reference to the appeal.
The Committee must issue a written decision affirming or rejecting the decision of the Hearing Board not less than 25 days after the Township Clerk receives notice of the appeal.
The Township Clerk, or such person as is authorized by the Township to make so-called personnel decisions, shall be permitted, pursuant to the written recommendation of the Hearing Board required by § 46-5G to impose the following penalties or conditions of employment upon a Township employee found to have committed the offense of sexual harassment. These remedies are listed are not to be considered cumulative in any manner:
Discharge or demote the guilty employee;
Issue a written reprimand which shall become part of the guilty employee's permanent employment file;
Transfer either of the parties involved so as to minimize contact between them;
Require the guilty employee to undergo psychological therapy at his/her own expense; and
Reissue to the guilty employee the policy statement of the Township against sexual harassment.
The Township hereby makes it its official policy to encourage all of its employees to use the procedures detailed herein when they witness conduct against other Township employees with the consent of said employee which might constitute the offense of sexual harassment.
The Township Clerk shall be obligated to undertake the following steps:
Provide to all current employees of the Township a true and complete copy of this chapter within 30 days of its effective date;
Provide to all persons hired as employees of the Township subsequent to the effective date of this chapter a true and complete copy of this chapter within 30 days of their hire date;
Issue a memorandum to all Township employees on or about October 1, 1993, and each October 1 thereafter concerning the policy of this Township against sexual harassment; and
Discuss the policy against sexual harassment during any new employee orientation meetings, seminars or training sessions held subsequent to the effective date of this chapter.
All management and supervisory employees of the Township as well as all elected officials of the Township shall undergo training, in one or more sessions, with a person trained to lead or implement such training, said training to include a detailed discussion of the following:
The procedures for the filing of the sexual harassment charges as outlined in this chapter;
The specifics of quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment and the differences between the two types;
What constitutes unwelcome conduct;
The manner of investigation which assures complete and prompt investigations;
Management's obligations regarding harassment of which it is aware, or alternatively, should be aware;
Procedures to be installed to insure the confidential nature of information gathered during an investigation;
The manner in which the interest of both the charged party and the complainant can be balanced; and
The above described personnel shall be required to undergo this training on or before October 1, 1993, and every three years thereafter.
All other employees of the Township shall undergo training led by a person trained to lead such sessions, to raise their awareness and understanding of the consequences of their behavior and to reduce confusion about which actions or conduct is acceptable and which is not. These employees shall be required to undergo this training on or before October 1, 1993, and every two years thereafter.
Nonemployees of the Township, including but not limited to those interacting with Township employees as vendors of goods and services, independent contractors, substitute or temporary workers or fill-ins, shall also be subject to each and every term of this chapter should it be alleged by a complainant that they committed an act or conducted themselves in such a way as to commit an offense of sexual harassment.
The Township shall not take any retaliation against any employee who files a complaint or assists in the investigation of such a complaint.
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 investigator or the Hearing Board, as same are established by this chapter, shall also be guilty of having made false accusations.