Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers Sexual Harassment Policy1
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers (“BMUST”) is committed to maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. All employees are required to work in a manner that prevents sexual harassment in the workplace. This Policy is one component of BMUST’s commitment to a discrimination-free work environment. Sexual harassment is against the law2 and all employees have a legal right to a workplace free from sexual harassment and employees are urged to report sexual harassment by filing a complaint internally with BMUST. Employees can also file a complaint with a government agency or in court under federal, state or local antidiscrimination laws.
- BMUST’s policy applies to all employees, applicants for employment, interns, whether paid or unpaid, contractors and persons conducting business, regardless of immigration status, with BMUST. In the remainder of this document, the term “employees” refers to this collective group.
- Sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Any employee or individual covered by this policy who engages in sexual harassment or retaliation will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary action (e.g., counseling, suspension, termination).
- Retaliation Prohibition: No person covered by this Policy shall be subject to adverse action because the employee reports an incident of sexual harassment, provides information, or otherwise assists in any investigation of a sexual harassment complaint. BMUST will not tolerate such retaliation against anyone who, in good faith, reports or provides information about suspected sexual harassment. Any employee of BMUST who retaliates against anyone involved in a sexual harassment investigation will be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. All employees, paid or unpaid interns, or non-employees3 working in the workplace who believe they have been subject to such retaliation should inform a member of the Board of Trustees. All employees, paid or unpaid interns or non-employees who believe they have been a target of such retaliation may also seek relief in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections.
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.
2While this policy specifically addresses sexual harassment because of and discrimination against persons of all protected classes is prohibited. In New York State, such classes include age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, marital status, domestic violence victim status, gender identity or expression, familial status, predisposing genetic characteristics, and criminal history.
3A 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.
- Sexual harassment is offensive, is a violation of our policies, is unlawful, and may subject BMUST to liability for harm to targets of sexual harassment. Harassers may also be individually subject to liability. Employees of every level who engage in sexual harassment, including managers and supervisors who engage in sexual harassment or who allow such behavior to continue, will be penalized for such misconduct.
- BMUST will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation that ensures due process for all parties, whenever management receives a complaint about sexual harassment, or otherwise knows of possible sexual harassment occurring. BMUST will keep the investigation confidential to the extent possible. Effective corrective action will be taken whenever sexual harassment is found to have occurred. All employees, including managers and supervisors, are required to cooperate with any internal investigation of sexual harassment.
- All employees are encouraged to report any harassment or behaviors that violate this policy. BMUST will provide all employees a complaint form for employees to report harassment and file complaints.
- Members of the Board of Trustees are required to report any complaint that they receive, or any harassment that they observe or become aware of, to any appropriate Executive Board Officer (President, 1st Vice-President, 2nd Vice-President, Treasurer or Grievance Chair).
- This policy applies to all employees, paid or unpaid interns, and non-employees, such as contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or anyone providing services in the workplace, and all must follow and uphold this policy. This policy must be provided to all employees and should be posted prominently in all work locations to the extent practicable (for example, in a main office, not an offsite work location) and be provided to employees upon hiring.
What Is “Sexual Harassment”?
Sexual harassment is unlawful when it subjects an individual to inferior terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Harassment need not be severe or pervasive to be unlawful, and can be any harassing conduct that consists of more than petty slights or trivial inconveniences. 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:
- ● Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment;
- ● Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or
- ● Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions
affecting an individual’s employment.
A sexually harassing hostile work environment includes, but is not limited to, 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
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 report so that any violation of this policy can be corrected promptly. Any harassing conduct, even a single incident, can be addressed under this policy.
Examples of sexual harassment
The following describes some of the types of acts that may be unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited:
● Physical acts of a sexual nature, such as:
o Touching, pinching, patting, kissing, hugging, grabbing, brushing against another
employee’s body or poking another employee’s body;
o Rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit these assaults.
● Unwanted sexual advances or propositions, such as:
o Requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning the
target’s job performance evaluation, a promotion or other job benefits or detriments; o Subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities.
- ● Sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks or jokes, or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience, which create a hostile work environment.
- ● Sex stereotyping occurs when conduct or personality traits are considered inappropriate simply because they may not conform to other people's ideas or perceptions about how individuals of a particular sex should act or look.
- ● Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the workplace, such as:
materials or other materials that are sexually demeaning or pornographic. This includes such sexual displays on workplace computers or cell phones and sharing such displays while in the workplace.
● Hostile actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender, such as:
o Interfering with, destroying or damaging a person’s workstation, tools or equipment, or otherwise interfering with the individual’s ability to perform the job;
o Sabotaging an individual’s work; o Bullying, yelling, name-calling.
Who can be a target of sexual harassment?
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. Harassers can be a superior, a subordinate, a coworker or anyone in the workplace including an independent contractor, contract worker, vendor, client, customer or visitor.
Where can sexual harassment occur?
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, on personal devices or during non-work hours.
Unlawful retaliation can be any action that could discourage 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 (e.g., threats of physical violence outside of work hours).
Such retaliation is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) 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:
- ● made a complaint of sexual harassment, either internally or with any anti-discrimination agency;
- ● testified or assisted in a proceeding involving sexual harassment under the Human Rights Law or
other anti-discrimination law;
- ● opposed sexual harassment by making a verbal or informal complaint to management, or by simply informing a supervisor or manager of harassment;
- ● reported that another employee has been sexually harassed; or
- ● encouraged a fellow employee to report harassment.
Even if the alleged harassment does not turn out to rise to the level of a violation of law, the individual is protected from retaliation if the person had a good faith belief that the practices were unlawful. However, the retaliation provision is not intended to protect persons making intentionally false charges of harassment.
Reporting Sexual Harassment
Preventing sexual harassment is everyone’s responsibility. BMUST 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 member of the Board of Trustees. Anyone who witnesses or becomes aware of potential instances of sexual harassment should report such behavior to a member of the Board of Trustees.
Employees, paid or unpaid interns or non-employees who believe they have been a target of sexual harassment may also seek assistance in other available forums, as explained below in the section on Legal Protections.
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 any appropriate Executive Board Officer.
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.
Complaint and Investigation of Sexual Harassment
All complaints or information about 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, commenced immediately and completed as soon as possible. The investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible. All persons involved, including complainants, witnesses and alleged harassers will be accorded due process, as outlined below, 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. BMUST will not tolerate retaliation against employees who file complaints, support another’s complaint or participate in an investigation regarding a violation of this policy.
While the process may vary from case to case, investigations should be done in accordance with the following steps:
- ● Upon receipt of complaint, The Executive Board Officers will conduct an immediate review of the allegations, and take any interim actions (e.g., instructing the respondent to refrain from communications with the complainant), as appropriate. If complaint is verbal, encourage the individual to complete the “Complaint Form” in writing. If he or she refuses, prepare a Complaint Form based on the verbal reporting.
- ● If documents, emails or phone records are relevant to the investigation, take steps to obtain and preserve them.
- ● Request and review all relevant documents, including all electronic communications.
● Create a 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;
o A summary of prior relevant incidents, reported or unreported; and
o The basis for the decision and final resolution of the complaint, together with any corrective action(s).
- ● Keep the written documentation and associated documents in a secure and confidential location.
- ● Promptly notify the individual who reported and the individual(s) about whom the complaint was made of the final determination and implement any corrective actions identified in the written document.
- ● Inform the individual who reported of the right to file a complaint or charge externally as outlined in the next section.
Sexual Harassment Complain Form
Findings and Next Steps
Decisions based on the investigative findings and any applicable consequences or next steps will be made by The Executive Board Officers in consultation (if needed) with The Board of Trustees.
Findings and assignment of next steps and/or consequences will be made promptly, following the completion of the investigation.
The investigators will then inform the alleged victim(s) and the alleged offender of the findings and of any consequences or next steps assigned. Where necessary and appropriate to the implementation of any corrective measures, the alleged offender’s supervisor will also be informed of the finding and assigned next steps.
Any BMUST employee who is found, after appropriate investigation, to have engaged in sex discrimination, sexual harassment or retaliation will be subject to appropriate and proportionate next steps and consequences which, depending upon the circumstances, may range from counseling to formal discipline. BMUST is committed to ensuring that consequences and next steps are assigned in a consistent and equitable manner and will retain centralized records regarding investigations, findings and assigned consequences (records to be retained in the BMUST Office) to ensure consistency and to allow for sufficient perspective where multiple complains may be made about the same alleged offender over time. BMUST is committed to assigning resolutions, next steps and consequences consistently and without regard to job title, role and responsibilities, tenure or prior performance.
- A warning to or expulsion of the alleged offender from the activity, event or meeting.
- Reassigning or redirecting BMUST resources from projects, programs or events supervised or
staffed by the alleged offender.
BMUST will take necessary steps to ensure that inappropriate, sexually discriminatory or sexually harassing conduct that has been corroborated through the investigation process and addressed with next steps does not resume. Specifically, BMUST will develop regular check-ins, at 3-month intervals, or other appropriate means of monitoring to verify that the inappropriate act remain cured and that neither the complainant nor any other person has been subjected to similar conduct.
Legal Protections And External Remedies
Sexual harassment is not only prohibited by BMUST but is also prohibited by state, federal, and, where applicable, local law.
Aside from the internal process at BMUST, employees may also choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental entities. While a private attorney is not required to file a complaint with a governmental agency, you may seek the legal advice of an attorney.
In addition to those outlined below, employees in certain industries may have additional legal protections.
State Human Rights Law (HRL)
The Human Rights Law (HRL), codified as N.Y. Executive Law, art. 15, § 290 et seq., applies to all 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 the Division of Human Rights (DHR) or in New York State Supreme Court.
Complaints with DHR may be filed any time three years of the harassment. If an individual did not file at DHR, they can sue directly in state court under the HRL, within three years of the alleged sexual harassment. An individual may not file with DHR if they have already filed a HRL complaint in state court.
Complaining internally to BMUST does not extend your time to file with DHR or in court. The one year or three years is counted from 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 sexual harassment has occurred. Probable cause cases are forwarded to a public hearing before an administrative law judge. If sexual harassment 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 of 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. You may call (718) 741-8400 or visit: www.dhr.ny.gov.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (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. In general, private employers must have at least 15 employees to come within the jurisdiction of the EEOC.
An employee alleging discrimination at work 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 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820), 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. Contact their main office at Law Enforcement Bureau of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, 22 Reade Street, 1st Floor, New York, New York; call 311 or (212) 306-7450; or visit www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/html/home/home.shtml.
Contact the Local Police Department
If the harassment involves unwanted physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Contact the local police department.
Distribution Of This Policy
BMUST will provide this Policy to all current employees through the organizational-wide e-mail system (in compliance with ERISA’s electronic communication/distribution rules), as well as to hand-deliver this Policy to newly-hired employees, immediately upon hire. In addition, this policy will be published on BMUST’s internal website and will be posted prominently in all work locations.
BMUST will provide mandatory annual sexual harassment training to all employees (full time and part time), if required by Federal or State law. The training program will be interactive, and will include an explanation of sexual harassment, examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment, information concerning the federal and state law and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment and information concerning an employee’s rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints.
Updates To This Policy
This Policy shall be updated (in whole or in part) for necessary compliance with law, administrative guidance, as well as any changes in the model policy issued by the New York State Department of Labor/Division of Human Rights at: