[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Northport at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I). Amendments noted where applicable.]065a Complaint of Sexual Harassment
The Village of Northport believes in the dignity of the individual and recognizes the right of any person to equal opportunities. In this regard, the village has had a longstanding practice of protecting and safeguarding the rights and opportunities of any person who might seek or obtain employment without being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.
As with discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, age, disability and national origin, the Village of Northport also prohibits sexual harassment of its employees or officers in any form. The village will take all steps necessary to prevent and stop the occurrence of sexual harassment in the workplace.
This policy applies to all village officers and employees and all individuals who serve as contractors to the village. 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 village with respect to the sexual harassment of village officers or employees in the workplace.
This sexual harassment policy prohibits conduct including but not limited to the inappropriate forms of behavior described in § 65-8, in the definition of "sexual harassment."
Department heads and supervisory personnel are responsible for ensuring a work environment free from unsolicited, unwelcome and intimidating sexual overtures. These individuals must take immediate and appropriate corrective action when allegations of sexual harassment come to their attention to assure compliance with this policy.
A person who is found to have committed an act of sexual harassment may 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 filed a sexual harassment complaint is prohibited and may result in disciplinary action against the retaliator, if that person is an officer or employee of the village. Intimidation, coercion, threats, reprisals or discrimination against any person for complaining about harassment as described in this policy is prohibited.
All village officers and employees will be held responsible and accountable for avoiding or eliminating the conduct prohibited by this policy. Village employees are encouraged to report violations of this policy to their supervisor or to a member of the Sexual Harassment Committee. This Committee shall consist of two members of the Village Board, to be appointed annually by the Mayor.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- 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.
- A. Sexual advances that are not welcome, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct with sexual overtones constitute sexual harassment when:
- (1) Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual's employment;
- (2) 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
- (3) 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.
- B. 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 village 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 innuendos; 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.
Any village officer or employee is encouraged to report an incident of sexual harassment to a department head or to the Sexual Harassment Committee as soon as possible after an alleged incident. However, should the person's department head be involved in the incident, the report should be made directly to any member of the Sexual Harassment Committee.
Should an officer or employee believe that he or she has been sexually harassed and would like guidance as to how to proceed in filing a complaint, that individual should review the village's sexual harassment complaint procedure or contact any member of the Sexual Harassment Committee.
Should an individual file a complaint, the procedures of the Sexual Harassment Committee must be followed, including the time limit of 180 days. The procedure describes the steps to be taken when an employee has filed a complaint, details the responsibilities of any involved parties and provides the time frames for actions to be taken.
All complaints will be handled in a timely and confidential manner. In no event will information concerning a complaint be released by the village to any third party or to anyone within village employment who is not directly involved in the investigation.
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 Sexual 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 sexual harassment 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 sexual harassment complaint may well be a violation of federal law and may result in disciplinary action by the village.
A person who is found to have committed an act of sexual harassment may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the provisions of a negotiated labor agreement or state law, as may be appropriate.
Nothing in this policy should be construed to limit an individual's existing right to file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or to take any legal action which he or she may deem advisable.
In the event that the Mayor or any member of the Board of Trustees is involved in an incident alleging sexual harassment, the Board of Trustees shall appoint an attorney at law, other than the Village Attorney, to perform all duties that would otherwise be carried out by the Sexual Harassment Committee.
An aggrieved person, hereafter referred to as the "complainant," will meet with his or her department head to discuss an allegation of sexual harassment and may file a complaint of harassment. If a complaint is filed, the department head shall send a signed complaint on a form available from the village to the Sexual Harassment Committee. Should an individual feel uncomfortable raising an issue of alleged harassment with a department head, any other department head or a member of the Sexual Harassment Committee may be approached. Verbal complaints may be handled informally.
Any written complaint must be filed by a complainant within 180 days of an alleged act of harassment on a form available from the village.
The complainant may withdraw his or her complaint at any time by filing a notice in writing on a form available from the village.
When a written complaint is filed, the department head or committee member shall have 15 working days to try to resolve the allegation informally by:
Regardless of whether the complaint is written or verbal, if a resolution is achieved by a department head, he or she will prepare a statement that the complaint has been resolved. All parties must sign the statement which shall be sent to the Sexual Harassment Committee. The case will be considered closed.
If a complaint is not resolved, it will be turned over to the Sexual Harassment Committee. The Committee will investigate the complaint, call witnesses to appear before the Committee and review any other evidence the Committee feels credible and probative of the allegation or allegations. Notice of the complaint must be given to the accused, who shall also be afforded an opportunity to appear before the Committee, with or without counsel, if he or she so desires. The Committee will have 10 working days to investigate the complaint and an additional 10 working days to render a decision.
Written notice of the Committee's decision will be given to both the complainant and the accused.