I. POLICY STATEMENT
It is the policy of the County of Fulton to provide and maintain a work environment which is free from unlawful discrimination based on sex (with or without sexual conduct, and including gender identity, gender expression or transgender status), race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or predisposing genetic characteristic, marital status, familial status, military status, domestic violence victim status, and any other class protected by law. Harassment based on these protected characteristics (collectively referred to as “discriminatory harassment”) is a form of unlawful discrimination and is prohibited in each and every work environment and each and every situation which directly impacts the work environment.
Sexual harassment is covered separately under the County of Fulton Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy. Refer to the County of Fulton Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy, available at the Fulton County Personnel Department.
The County of Fulton will take appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful discriminatory harassment and discrimination as defined by federal, state and local law (if applicable.) This includes federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information NonDiscrimination Act, as well as the New York State Human Rights Law.
The County of Fulton considers discrimination, discriminatory harassment and other conduct prohibited by this Policy to be a form of employee misconduct and considers this type of misconduct to be a serious offense which will not be tolerated. Allegations of discrimination and discriminatory harassment will be investigated thoroughly and if substantiated, will be met with appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action commensurate with the seriousness of the offense(s), and in accordance with the parameters of applicable collective bargaining agreements and/or state law.
Retaliation against any individual making a discrimination or harassment complaint or assisting in the investigation of such a complaint is forbidden. Retaliation is a serious violation of this policy which may result in disciplinary action.
- Who is covered by this Policy? This policy applies to all applicants, employees, interns (paid or unpaid), volunteers, contractors, and other non-employees conducting business with the County of Fulton.
- What does this Policy prohibit? This policy prohibits discriminatory harassment, discrimination and retaliation whether engaged in by fellow employees, by a supervisor or manager or by someone not directly connected to the County of Fulton (e.g., an outside vendor, consultant, other non-employee or citizen).
- Where can discrimination or discriminatory harassment occur? Conduct prohibited by this Policy is unacceptable in the workplace and in any work-related setting outside the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings, and business-related social events.
- All information gathered during an investigation of a complaint will be handled in a confidential manner, to the extent possible.
- This Policy does not preclude the filing of discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation complaints with the New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR), the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or the pursuing of any other remedies as permitted by law.
III. DEFINITIONS OF PROHIBITED CONDUCT
Discrimination on the basis of any protected characteristic is prohibited. Discrimination includes any adverse employment action (termination, failure to hire, demotion, failure to promote, etc.) taken on the basis of sex (with or without sexual conduct, and including gender identity, gender expression or transgender status), race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information or predisposing genetic characteristic, marital status, familial status, military status, domestic violence victim status, and any other class protected by law.
- Discriminatory Harassment
Harassment on the basis of any protected characteristic is prohibited. Under this policy, prohibited discriminatory harassment is verbal or physical conduct that is offensive to or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of a protected class or characteristic, and that: (i) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment; (ii) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or (iii) otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.
NOTE: Sexual harassment, including harassment on the basis of sex (including gender identity or transgender status) and sexual orientation is covered separately under the County of Fulton Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy.
Harassing conduct includes, but is not limited to: epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation in the workplace (including through e-mail) of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group, based on an individual’s protected class.
Retaliation against any individual for making a discriminatory or any harassment complaint or assisting in the investigation of such a complaint is prohibited by law and under this Policy. Unlawful retaliation can be any adverse employment action, including being discharged, disciplined, discriminated against, or any action that would keep or discourage anyone covered by this Policy from coming forward to make or support a claim of discrimination or discriminatory harassment. Adverse action need not be job-related or occur in the workplace to constitute unlawful retaliation. Any employee, intern, volunteer, and non-employee who believes they have been subjected to retaliation should report this conduct in accordance with the same reporting procedures as are outlined below. These complaints of retaliation will be investigated in accordance with the same procedures utilized and described below. Individuals also may file complaints of retaliation with the federal or state enforcement agencies (EEOC or New York State Division of Human Rights.) Any individual found to have engaged in retaliation as defined in this Policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination, and/or other corrective or remedial action as necessary and permitted by an applicable collective bargaining agreement or state law.
- Other Unacceptable Conduct:
This policy also prohibits conduct of one employee toward another that may not rise to the level of discriminatory harassment in violation of the law, but nonetheless creates a degree of hostility or intimidation that adversely affects the work environment. Teasing, ridicule, and other conduct intended to annoy, personally attack, belittle or embarrass another individual is inappropriate and also unacceptable in the workplace. Therefore, the County of Fulton encourages the use of its complaint procedure by employees who believe they have been subject to inappropriate conduct by another employee, even if such conduct may not be harassment or discrimination per se. The County of Fulton endeavors to create an environment in which employees may feel free to raise concerns and are confident that those concerns will be addressed.
IV. REPORTING PROCEDURES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- Reporting Procedures
Peventing harassment is everyone’s responsibility. If an employee, intern, volunteer, or nonemployee who witnesses or is subjected to a situation which he/she believes constitutes discriminatory harassment in violation of this Policy, the County of Fulton recommends that the person confront the harasser directly and advise the harasser that his/her behavior is not welcomed and will not be tolerated.
If an employee, intern, volunteer or non-employee who witnesses or is subjected to a situation which he/she believes constitutes discrimination or discriminatory harassment, he/she should file a complaint with the Compliance Officer as set forth below. Anyone who witnesses or becomes aware of potential instances of discrimination or harassment should also report such behavior to the Compliance Officer.
Compliance Officer: The Fulton County Director of Personnel
In the event that the Compliance Officer is the subject of the complaint, complaints are to be made to the Fulton County Attorney.
Although encouraged, note that neither this Policy nor state or federal law requires that an individual tell an alleged harasser to stop his/her actions. Failure to do so does not preclude the individual from filing a complaint of discriminatory harassment. Individuals should feel free to keep written records of any actions which may constitute harassment, including time, date, location, names of others involved, witnesses (if any), and who said or did what to whom.
Complaints may be made verbally or in writing. If made verbally, the complaint must be reduced to writing by the individual to whom it was reported. The written report must be given to the Compliance Officer. A form for submission of a written complaint is attached to this Policy, and all employees, interns, volunteers, and non-employees conducting business in the workplace are encouraged to use this complaint form. Individuals who are reporting discrimination or harassment on behalf of other employees, interns, volunteers or non-employees should use the complaint form and note that it is submitted on another person’s behalf.
- Employee Responsibilities
All employees, interns and volunteers are responsible for refraining from discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation in the workplace. Anyone who witnesses discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation may notify the person responsible that their behavior is inappropriate, and in any and all events, should notify the Compliance Officer.
- Supervisory Responsibilities
All managerial and supervisory personnel of the County of Fulton shall be responsible for enforcing this Policy and shall have particular responsibility for ensuring that the work environment under their supervision is free from discrimination, discriminatory harassment, and retaliation. Failure of a manager or supervisor to comply with this responsibility may result in disciplinary action. All managerial and supervisory personnel who receive complaints of, observe directly, or otherwise become aware of or suspect that discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation is occurring, will be responsible for immediately forwarding such complaints, in writing, to the Compliance Officer. Supervisors and managers will be subject to discipline (or other remedial or appropriate action) for failing to report suspected discriminatory harassment or otherwise knowingly allowing the harassment to continue. Supervisors and managers will also be subjected to discipline (or other remedial or appropriate action) if found to have engaged in discrimination, discriminatory harassment, or retaliation.
- Employer Responsibilities
The County of Fulton will conduct periodic training on the issues surrounding discrimination, discriminatory harassment, its effects and its appearances, and the role and responsibility of employees and managerial/supervisory personnel in preventing incidents of discrimination and harassment. The County of Fulton will also distribute this Policy to all employees, interns and volunteers, and ensure that it is distributed to new employees as they are hired
V. INVESTIGATION AND RESPONSE PROCEDURES
Discrimination and discriminatory harassment complaints will be investigated. The Compliance Officer and/or their designee(s) will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation commencing immediately and completed as soon as possible. The investigation will be confidential to the greatest extent possible.
Any employee, volunteer, intern or non-employee may be required to cooperate as needed in an investigation of suspected discriminatory harassment. As further set forth herein, the County of Fulton will not tolerate retaliation against those who file complaints, support another’s complaint, or participate in the investigation of a complaint.
The nature and extent of an investigation may vary on a case by case basis dependent upon the circumstances and extent of the allegations. Generally, investigations should be conducted in accordance with the following steps:
- Upon receipt of complaint, the Compliance Officer or their designee will conduct an immediate review of the allegations, and take interim actions, as appropriate. If the complaint is oral, encourage the individual to complete the “Complaint Form” in writing. If he or she refuses, prepare a Complaint Form or other write up of the complaint based on the oral reporting.
- If documents, emails or phone records are relevant to the allegations, take steps to obtain and preserve them.
- Request and review all relevant documents, including all electronic communications.
- Interview all parties involved, including any relevant witnesses.
- Create (at a minimum) written documentation of the investigation (such as a letter, memo or email), which contains the following: o A list of all documents reviewed, along with a detailed summary of relevant documents; o A list of names of those interviewed, along with a detailed summary of their statements; o A timeline of events;
- A summary of prior relevant incidents, reported or unreported; and
- Recommendation(s) for the final resolution of the complaint, together with any recommendations for corrective or remedial actions to be taken.
- A summary of prior relevant incidents, reported or unreported; and
- Keep the written documentation and associated documents in the employer’s records.
Once the investigation is completed, the Compliance Officer or their designee will make a Final Determination as to whether the Policy has been violated.
The Compliance Officer or their designee shall promptly notify the complainant of the Final Determination, and also inform the complainant of their right to file a complaint or charge with the DHR or EEOC, or in an appropriate court.
If a complaint of discriminatory harassment, other harassment, or retaliation is determined to be founded, the County of Fulton will take disciplinary and/or corrective action in accordance with law and/or an applicable collective bargaining agreement. The Compliance Officer will be responsible for overseeing the implementing of any corrective or remedial actions deemed necessary.
If disciplinary charges are filed against an employee on the grounds that the County of Fulton has determined the employee is guilty of discrimination, discriminatory harassment or retaliation, the accused employee may exercise his/her rights through the disciplinary procedure provided for in his/her collective bargaining agreement, or state law, if applicable.
VI. FALSE REPORTS
Reporting of a false complaint is a serious act. In the event it is found that an individual bringing the complaint has knowingly made false allegations, the County of Fulton may take appropriate remedial action and/or disciplinary action in accordance with the provisions of applicable collective bargaining agreement and/or state law
VI. FALSE REPORTS
Reporting of a false complaint is a serious act. In the event it is found that an individual bringing the complaint has knowingly made false allegations, the County of Fulton may take appropriate remedial action and/or disciplinary action in accordance with the provisions of applicable collective bargaining agreement and/or state lawResolutions THE COUNTY OF FULTON DISCRIMINATORY HARASSMENT PREVENTION COMPLAINT FORM