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Harassment Prevention Policy

PURPOSE     

Acknowledgement Form

The purpose of this policy is to establish a strong commitment to prohibit and prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in employment; to define those terms; and to set forth a procedure for investigating and resolving internal complaints. The employer encourages all covered individuals to report-as soon as possible-any conduct that is believed to violate this policy. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any District Ordinance, regulation or rule, this policy shall apply to all District elected or appointed officials, officers, employees, or contractors.

POLICY

The Cambria Community Services District has zero-tolerance for any conduct that violates this policy. Conduct need not rise to the level of a violation of law to violate this policy. A single act can violate this policy and provide grounds for discipline or other appropriate sanctions.

Harassment or discrimination against an applicant, unpaid intern, volunteer, or employee by a supervisor, management employee, elected or appointed official, coworker, member of the public, or contractor on the basis of race, religion, color, sex (including gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender, pregnancy, and breastfeeding), national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, disability, medical condition, genetic characteristics or information, marital status, age, sexual orientation (including homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality), military or veteran status, or any other protected classification as defined below, will not be tolerated.

This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including, but not limited to, hiring, placement, promotion, disciplinary action, layoff, recall, transfer, leave of absence, compensation, and training.

Disciplinary action or other appropriate sanction up to and including termination will be instituted for prohibited behavior as defined below.

Any retaliation against a person for filing a complaint or participating in the complaint resolution process is prohibited. Individuals found to be retaliating in violation of this policy will be subject to appropriate sanction or disciplinary action up to and including termination.

DEFINITIONS

a) Protected Classifications: This policy prohibits harassment or discrimination because of an individual’s protected classification. “Protected Classification” includes race, religion, color, sex (including gender, gender identity, gender expression, transgender, pregnancy, and breastfeeding), national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, disability, medical condition, genetic characteristics or information, marital status, age, sexual orientation (including homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality), and military or veteran status.

b) Policy Coverage: This policy prohibits the Cambria Community Services District, elected or appointed officials, officers, employees, or contractors from harassing or discriminating against applicants, officers, officials, employees, unpaid interns, volunteers, or contractors because of: 1) an individual’s protected classification; 2) the perception that an individual has a protected classification; or 3) the individual associates with a person who has or is perceived to have a protected classification.

c) Discrimination: This policy prohibits treating individuals differently because of the individual’s protected classification as defined in this policy.

d) Harassment may include, but is not limited to, the following types of behavior, if that behavior is taken because of a person’s protected classification. Note that harassment is not limited to conduct by the employer’s employees. Under certain circumstances, harassment can also include conduct taken by those who are not employees, such as elected officials, appointed officials, persons providing services under contracts, or even members of the public:

  1. Speech, such as epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, and propositioning on the basis of a protected classification.  This might include inappropriate comments on appearance, including dress or physical features, or dress consistent with gender identification, or race-oriented stories and jokes.
  2. Physical acts, such as assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching, or any physical interference with normal work or movement. This includes pinching, grabbing, patting, propositioning, leering, or making explicit or implied job threats or promises in return for submission to physical acts.
  3. Visual acts, such as derogatory posters, cartoons, emails, pictures, or drawings related to a protected classification.
  4. Unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other acts of a sexual nature, where submission is made a term or condition of employment, where submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions, or where the conduct is intended to or actually does unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

e) Guidelines for Identifying Harassment: To help clarify what constitutes harassment in violation of this policy, use the following guidelines:

  1. Harassment includes any conduct which would be "unwelcome" to an individual of the recipient’s same protected classification and which is taken because of the recipient’s protected classification.
  2. It is no defense that the recipient appears to have voluntarily "consented" to the conduct at issue. A recipient may not protest for many legitimate reasons, including the need to avoid being insubordinate or to avoid being ostracized.
  3. Simply because no one has complained about a joke, gesture, picture, physical contact, or comment does not mean that the conduct is welcome. Harassment can evolve over time. The fact that no one is complaining now does not preclude anyone from complaining if the conduct is repeated in the future.
  4. Even visual, verbal, or physical conduct between two individuals who appear to welcome the conduct can constitute harassment of a third individual who observes the conduct or learns about the conduct later. Conduct can constitute harassment even if it is not explicitly or specifically directed at an individual.
  5. Conduct can constitute harassment in violation of this policy even if the individual engaging in the conduct has no intention to harass. Even well-intentioned conduct can violate this policy if the conduct is directed at, or implicates a protected classification, and if an individual of the recipient’s same protected classification would find it offensive (e.g., gifts, over attention, endearing nicknames).

f) Retaliation: Any adverse conduct taken because an applicant, employee, or contractor has reported harassment or discrimination, or has participated in the complaint and investigation process described herein, is prohibited. “Adverse conduct” includes but is not limited to: taking sides because an individual has reported harassment or discrimination, spreading rumors about a complaint, shunning and avoiding an individual who reports harassment or discrimination, or real or implied threats of intimidation to prevent an individual from reporting harassment or discrimination. The following individuals are protected from retaliation: those who make good faith reports of harassment or discrimination, those who associate with an individual who is involved in reporting harassment or discrimination, and those who participate in the complaint or investigation process.

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

a) An employee, job applicant, unpaid intern, volunteer, or contractor who believes he or she has been harassed may make a complaint verbally or in writing with any of the following. There is no need to follow the chain of command:

  1. Immediate supervisor;
  2. Any supervisor or manager within or outside of the department;
  3. Any department head; or
  4. The staff person designated by the General Manager as having responsibility for the District’s Human Resources functions (hereafter referred to as the “Human Resources Officer.”)

b) Any supervisor or department head who receives a harassment complaint should notify the Human Resources Officer immediately.

c) Upon receiving notification of a harassment complaint, the Human Resources Officer shall:

  1. Provide the complainant with a timely response indicating that the complaint has been received and that a fair, timely, and thorough investigation will be conducted.
  2. Timely authorize and supervise a fair and thorough investigation of the complaint by impartial and qualified personnel and/or investigate the complaint. The investigation will afford all parties with appropriate due process and include interviews withthe complainant;the accused harasser; and,other persons who have relevant knowledge concerning the allegations in the complaint.
  3. Review the factual information gathered through the investigation to reach a reasonable conclusion as to whether the alleged conduct constitutes harassment, discrimination, or retaliation giving consideration to all factual information, the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of the conduct, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.
  4. Timely report a summary of the determination as to whether harassment occurred to appropriate persons, including the complainant, the alleged harasser, the supervisor, and the department head. If discipline is imposed, the level of discipline will not be communicated to the complainant.
  5. If the conduct in violation of this policy occurred, take, or recommend to the appointing authority prompt and effective remedial action. The remedial action will be commensurate with the severity of the offense.
  6. Take reasonable steps to protect the complainant from further harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.
  7. Take reasonable steps to protect the complainant from retaliation as a result of communicating the complaint.

d) The Cambria Community Services District takes a proactive approach to potential policy violations and will conduct an investigation if its officers, supervisors, or managers become aware that harassment, discrimination, or retaliation may be occurring, regardless of whether the recipient or third party reports a potential violation.

e) Option to report to outside administrative agencies: An individual has the option to report harassment, discrimination, or retaliation to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).These administrative agencies offer legal remedies and a complaint process. The nearest offices are listed in the government section of the telephone book or employees can check the posters that are located on employer bulletin boards for office locations and telephone numbers.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Every possible effort will be made to assure the confidentiality of complaints made under this policy. Complete confidentiality cannot occur, however, due to the need to fully investigate and the duty to take effective remedial action. As a result, confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible. An individual who is interviewed during the course of an investigation is prohibited from discussing the substance of the interview, except as otherwise directed by a supervisor or the Human Resources Officer. Any individual who discusses the content of an investigatory interview will be subject to discipline or other appropriate sanction. The employer will not disclose a completed investigation report except as it deems necessary to support a disciplinary action, to take remedial action, to defend itself in adversarial proceedings, or to comply with the law or court order.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Managers and Supervisors are responsible for:

  • Informing employees of this policy.
  • Modeling appropriate behavior.
  • Taking all steps necessary to prevent harassment, discrimination, or retaliation from occurring.
  • Receiving complaints in a fair and serious manner, and documenting steps taken to resolve complaints.
  • Monitoring the work environment and taking immediate appropriate action to stop potential violations, such as removing inappropriate pictures or correcting inappropriate language.
  • Following up with those who have complained to ensure that the behavior has stopped and that there are no reprisals.
  • Informing those who complain of harassment or discrimination of his or her option to contact the EEOC or DFEH regarding alleged policy violations.
  • Assisting, advising, or consulting with employees and the Human Resources Officer regarding this Policy and Complaint Procedure.
  • Assisting in the investigation of complaints involving employee(s) in their departments and, if the complaint is substantiated, recommending appropriate corrective or disciplinary action in accordance with employer Personnel Regulations, up to and including discharge.
  • Implementing appropriate disciplinary and remedial actions.
  • Reporting potential violations of this policy of which he or she becomes aware, regardless of whether a complaint has been submitted, to the Human Resources Officer or the department head.
  • Participating in periodic training and scheduling employees for training.

Each employee or contractor is responsible for:

  • Treating all employees and contractors with respect and consideration.
  • Modeling appropriate behavior.
  • Participating in periodic training.
  • Fully cooperating with the employer’s investigations by responding fully and truthfully to all questions posed during the investigation.
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of any investigation that the employer conducts by not disclosing the substance of any investigatory interview, except as directed by the department head or Human Resources Officer.
  • Reporting any act, he or she believes in good faith constitutes harassment, discrimination, or retaliation as defined in this policy, to his or her immediate supervisor, or department head, or Human Resources Officer.

DISSEMINATION OF POLICY

All employees shall receive a copy of this policy when they are hired. The policy may be updated from time to time and redistributed with a form for the employee to sign and return acknowledging that the employee has received, read, and understands this policy.