Middle Country Public Library is committed to maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. Middle Country Public Library has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment, and all employees are required to work in a manner that prevents sexual harassment in the workplace. This policy is one component of Middle Country Public Library’s commitment to a discrimination-free work environment.
Sexual harassment is against the law. All employees have a legal right to a workplace free from sexual harassment, and employees can enforce this right by filing a complaint internally with Middle Country Public Library, or with a government agency or in court under federal, state or local antidiscrimination laws.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state and local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender.
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature, or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when:
A sexually harassing hostile work environment consists of words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex. Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.
Sexual harassment also occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job benefits for sexual favors. This can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or any other terms, conditions or privileges of employment. This is also called “ quid pro quo” harassment.
Any employee who feels harassed should complain so that any violation of this policy can be corrected promptly. Any harassing conduct, even a single incident, can be addressed under this policy.
The following describes some of the types of acts that may be unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited:
Sexual harassment can occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex or gender. New York law protects employees, paid or unpaid interns, and non-employees, including independent contractors, and those employed by companies contracting to provide services in the workplace. A perpetrator of sexual harassment can be a superior, a subordinate, a coworker or anyone in the workplace including an independent contractor, contract worker, vendor, client, customer or visitor.
Unlawful sexual harassment is not limited to the physical workplace itself. It can occur while employees are traveling for business or at employer sponsored events or parties. Calls, texts, emails, and social media usage by employees can constitute unlawful workplace harassment, even if they occur away from the workplace premises or not during work hours.
Unlawful retaliation can be any action that would keep a worker from coming forward to make or support a sexual harassment claim. Adverse action need not be job-related or occur in the workplace to constitute unlawful retaliation.
Such retaliation is unlawful under federal, state and local law. The New York State Human Rights Law protects any individual who has engaged in “protected activity”. Protected activity occurs when a person has:
Preventing sexual harassment is everyone’s responsibility. Middle Country Public Library cannot prevent or remedy sexual harassment unless it knows about it. Any employee, paid or unpaid intern or non-employee who has been subjected to behavior that may constitute sexual harassment is encouraged to report such behavior to a supervisor, manager or MaryAnne Ellinger. Anyone who witnesses or becomes aware of potential instances of sexual harassment should report such behavior to a supervisor, manager or MaryAnne Ellinger.
Reports of sexual harassment may be made verbally or in writing. A form for submission of a written complaint is attached to this Policy, and all employees are encouraged to use this complaint form. Employees who are reporting sexual harassment on behalf of other employees should use the complaint form and note that it is on another employee’s behalf.
Employees, paid or unpaid interns, or non-employees who believe they have been a victim of sexual harassment may also seek assistance in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections.
Any false or malicious accusations may result in disciplinary action.
All supervisors and managers who receive a complaint or information about suspected sexual harassment, observe what may be sexually harassing behavior or for any reason suspect that sexual harassment is occurring, are required to report such suspected sexual harassment to MaryAnneEllinger.
In addition to being subject to discipline if they engaged in sexually harassing conduct themselves, supervisors and managers will be subject to discipline for failing to report suspected sexual harassment or otherwise knowingly allowing sexual harassment to continue.
Supervisors and managers will also be subject to discipline for engaging in any retaliation.
All complaints or information about suspected sexual harassment will be investigated, whether that information was reported in verbal or written form. investigations will be conducted in a timely manner, and will be confidential to the extent possible.
An investigation of any complaint, information or knowledge of suspected sexual harassment will be prompt and thorough, and should be completed within 30 days. The investigation will be confidential to the extent possible. All persons involved, including complainants, witnesses and alleged perpetrators will be accorded due process to protect their rights to a fair and impartial investigation.
Any employee may be required to cooperate as needed in an investigation of suspected sexual harassment. Employees who participate in any investigation will not be retaliated against.
Investigations will be done in accordance with the following steps:
The Human Rights Law (HRL), codified as N.Y. Executive Law, art.15, § 290 et seq., applies to employers in New York State with regard to sexual harassment, and protects employees, paid or unpaid interns and non-employees regardless of immigration status. A complaint alleging violation of the Human Rights Law may be filed either with DHR or in New York State Supreme Court.
Complaints with DHR may be filed any time within one year of the harassment. If an individual did not file at DHR, they can sue directly in state court under HRL, within three years of the alleged discrimination. An individual may not file with DHR if they have already filed a HRL complaint in state court.
Complaining internally to Middle Country Public Library does not extend your time to file with DHR or in court. The one year or three years is counted from the date of the most recent incident of harassment.
You do not need an attorney to file a complaint with DHR, and there is no cost to file with DHR.
DHR will investigate your complaint and determine whether there is probable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred. Probable cause cases are forwarded to a public hearing before an administrative law judge. If discrimination is found after a hearing, DHR has the power to award relief, which varies but may include requiring your employer to take action to stop the harassment, or redress the damage caused, including paying monetary damages, attorney’s fees and civil fines.
DHR’s main office contact information is : NYS Division of Human Rights, One Fordham Plaza, Fourth floor, Bronx, New York 10458, 1-718-741-8400, www.dhr.ny.gov
Contact DHR at 1-888-392-3644 or visit www.dhr.ny.gov/complaint for more information about filing a complaint. The website has a complaint form that can be downloaded, filled out, notarized and mailed to DHR. The website also contains contact information for DHR’s regional offices across New York State.
The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 federal civil Rights Act (codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). An individual can file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 days from the harassment. There is no cost to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the complaint, and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred, at which point the EEOC will issue a Right to Sue letter permitting the individual to file a complaint in federal court.
The EEOC does not hold hearings or award relief, but may take other action including pursuing cases in federal court on behalf of complaining parties. Federal courts may award remedies if discrimination is found to have occurred.
If an employee believes that he/she has been discriminated against at work, he/she can file a “Charge of Discrimination”. The EEOC has district, area, and field offices where complaints can be filed. Contact the EEOC by calling 1-800-669-4000 (1-800-669-6820 (TTY)), visiting their website at www.eeoc.gov or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If an individual filed an administrative complaint with DHR, DHR will file the complaint with the EEOC to preserve the right to proceed in federal court.
Many localities enforce laws protecting individuals from sexual harassment and discrimination. An individual should contact the county, city or town in which they live to find out if such a law exists. For example, employees who work in New York City may file complaints of sexual harassment with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, 40 Rector Street, 10th Floor, New York, New York; call 311 or 1-212-306-7450; or visit www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/home/home.shtml
If the harassment involves physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Contact the local police department.
*A non-employee is someone who is (or is employed by) a contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant, or anyone providing services in the workplace. Protected non-employees include persons commonly referred to as independent contractors, “gig” workers and temporary workers. Also included are persons providing equipment repair, cleaning services or any other services provided pursuant to a contract with the employer.
Adoption of this policy does not constitute a conclusive defense to charges of unlawful sexual harassment. Each claim of sexual harassment will be determined in accordance with existing legal standards, with due consideration of the particular facts and circumstances of the claim, including but not limited to the existence of an effective anti-harassment policy and procedure.
Adopted by the Board of Trustees on September 18, 2018