[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Paramus 3-5-2001 by Ord. No. 01-2. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Borough of Paramus (hereinafter referred to as the "Borough") has a strong commitment to provide a work environment free from unlawful harassment based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, ancestry, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait (AHCBT), liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, creed, handicap, marital status, nationality, genetic information, refusal to submit to genetic testing, refusal to provide genetic information or race of that person or of that person's spouse, partners, members, stockholders, directors, officers, managers, superintendents, agents, employees, business associates, suppliers or customers (collectively, the "protected classifications"). The Borough will not tolerate unlawful harassment. Acts or incidents of unlawful harassment should be promptly reported in accordance with the procedures outlined below. The Borough will promptly investigate all reports of unlawful harassment. Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination from employment. Employees who violate this policy also risk personal legal liability.
The purpose of this policy is to ensure all employees of the Borough of Paramus a work environment free of any type of unlawful discrimination, including freedom from harassment on the basis of any protected classification.
Conduct that may violate this policy and result in disciplinary action includes the following:
Unwelcome remarks and actions based on the protected classifications. This may include, but is not limited to, inappropriate jokes, comments or posted materials.
Threats or suggestions that an employee's employment work status will be adversely affected based upon the protected classifications.
Affecting or denying employment opportunities or benefits to an employee based upon the protected classifications.
Engaging in a negative tangible employment action based upon the protected classifications.
Retaliation against an employee who has reported any alleged violation of this policy or participated in an investigation related to this policy.
An important note must be made with respect to sexual harassment. "Sexual harassment" is defined as any unwelcome advance or request for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature where:
Submission is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or
Submission to or rejection of harassing conduct or communication is used or is threatened to be used as the basis of employment decisions; or
Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment is different from sexual attraction or flirtation. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual attention which is demeaning and causes the recipient distress. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments. However, comments or behavior which may be intended to be complimentary may be viewed by the recipient as unwelcome and a form of sexual harassment.
Special care must be exercised by supervisors and managers whose actions or remarks may be mistakenly perceived as unlawful harassment. The subordinate may feel inhibited and may not disclose the unwelcome actions or remarks by the supervisor or person of higher rank. Unlawful harassment is not limited, however, to employees of different rank.
Complaint procedure. Any employee who feels he or she has been subject to harassment or has knowledge of a violation of this policy should report the incident directly to the Mayor or Councilperson who is liaison to the employee's department, board or agency or to the employee's department head. The employee should complete a harassment complaint form. Employees, however, are not required to complete the complaint form to initiate a harassment complaint under this policy. The Mayor and Council must be promptly advised of such complaint. If the complaint involves a direct supervisor, the employee is not required to complain to the direct supervisor. The complaint should then be made to any of the other above-named individuals.
Once a complaint has been registered, a prompt and thorough investigation will be conducted to determine the meritorious character of the complaint.
In the event that it is determined that the complaint has merit, the Mayor and Council shall promptly thereafter schedule a hearing on the complaint. If the complaint has not been issued in writing, the complainant shall cause the complaint to be set forth in writing specifying details of the incident or incidents complained of.
If the Borough determines that unlawful harassment has occurred in violation of this policy, the individual who engaged in such harassing conduct shall face immediate and appropriate disciplinary action based upon the severity of the complaint and any prior history of past charges against and disciplinary action involving the individual. Disciplinary action may include a written warning, suspension, demotion and/or termination of employment. At the discretion of the Mayor and Council, the accused may be suspended without pay pending the hearing. In the event that the charges or the complaint is determined to be without merit and is dismissed following the suspension of the accused, the accused shall be reinstated with back pay.
In the event that the Mayor and Council determine the complaint to be without any merit and/or a fabrication, appropriate disciplinary action may be taken against the employee who caused the complaint to be executed.
The Borough of Paramus encourages victims of harassment to bring their complaints to management by ensuring that no reprisals or retaliation will result against such complaining individual as a result of the good faith reporting of harassment. In addition, anyone who assists in the filing of a complaint or in the investigation of a claim of harassment will be protected from reprisals and retaliation. Reprisal or retaliation may be the basis of a separate complaint, even if the complaint of harassment may be found to be without merit.
To the fullest extent possible and so long as it does not inhibit the conducting of an investigation, all persons involved with a harassment complaint will be given the utmost protection of privacy.
Borough liability. Because the Borough of Paramus prohibits harassment of its employees in any form, any individual charged with harassment in a civil action or by way of an administrative complaint shall be solely responsible for paying all costs of defense and/or any damages resulting therefrom which shall be awarded by proper court of law or by an administrative hearing unless the Mayor and Council agree otherwise in writing.
Any employee with questions regarding the Borough's policy against harassment may contact the Mayor, a Councilperson or department head.