Guideline 1-2: Employee Harassment

DEFINITION OF HARASSMENT AS USED IN THIS POLICY

"Harassment" as used in this policy refers to verbal and/or physical conduct (i) that is severe or pervasive, (ii) that is based on the individual's sex, race, national origin, color, religion, age, or disability, and (iii) that unreasonably interferes with the individual's work or academic performance or that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. This definition specifically includes the following types of harassment:

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, unwelcome verbal comments of a sexual nature, and physical contact or touching of a sexual nature. Conduct is unwelcome when it is not solicited by an individual and is regarded by him or her as unwanted or offensive. Sexual harassment is wrongful regardless of whether the parties are of the same sex or of the opposite sex. A violation of this policy occurs when:

  • Submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of employment, instruction, or participation in other college activities;
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for personnel or academic decisions that affect the individual who has been subjected to sexual advances; and/or
  • Such conduct has the effect of interfering with the individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment.

Harassment based on race, national origin, or color.

Harassment of employees because they are immigrants, speak another language, or have a foreign accent is prohibited. Racial slurs, nicknames, and derogatory innuendos relating to race, national origin, or color are prohibited. Harassing verbal or physical conduct, directed at a person because of his race, national origin, or color, is prohibited.

Harassment based on disability, age, or religion.

Slurs, nicknames, and derogatory innuendos relating to a person's religion, religious affiliation, religious apparel, age, disability, or need for accommodation may constitute unlawful discrimination. Harassing verbal or physical conduct, directed at a person because of his religion, age, or disability, is prohibited.

EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED CONDUCT

Examples of prohibited conduct include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt promises of preferential treatment regarding an individual's employment or academic status;
  • Requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats of retaliation regarding an individual's employment or academic status;
  • Demeaning jokes or slurs or offensive comments about the body or appearance because of the person's sex, race, disability, age, or religious apparel;
  • Display of sexually, racially, or religiously explicit graphics, cartoon, pictures, photographs, or objects that are unrelated to the workplace or course of study and are exploitative or demeaning in nature;
  • Unwanted flirtation or repeated requests for social/sexual encounters or favors the recipient deems unwelcome;
  • Suggestive or unwelcome physical contact, such as grabbing, touching, or patting;
  • Acts of intimidation and threats of violence motivated by race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or religion;
  • Physical assault and physical acts of aggression or damage to another's property when motivated by the individual's race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, or disability;
  • Degrading names or demeaning statements that are based on the individual's sex, race, national origin, disability, color, age, or religion; and
  • Spreading false rumors about a person's sexual activities or circulating or posting cartoons or other printed matter that disparages others because of their race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability.

CONSENSUAL RELATIONSHIPS

Consensual amorous or sexual relationships among supervisors or subordinates or among faculty and students may present serious ethical or professional concerns and may lead to allegations of sexual harassment; therefore, such relationships are discouraged.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Any employee of the San Jacinto College District community alleging harassment prohibited by this policy is encouraged to seek redress of his/her complaint. The complaint may be processed informally, through the mediation efforts of designated officers of the College District, or formally, through an established procedure. Informal resolution is not a prerequisite to filing a formal complaint.

An employee may seek informal resolution by contacting the vice chancellor of human resources who shall undertake, with permission of the employee, to resolve the conflict informally by informing the alleged offender of the complaint, seeking to find out the facts, and, if both parties desire it, arranging a meeting to try to resolve the differences. If informal resolution is undesirable or ineffective, then the employee may initiate a formal complaint.

All proceedings and records shall be confidential to the extent permitted by law.

LODGING A COMPLAINT ABOUT UNLAWFUL HARASSMENT

  • Complaints shall be in writing and shall describe all incident(s) considered by the complainant to be harassing. Complaints shall identify any relevant dates or witnesses.
  • If the alleged offender is a student, the aggrieved employee should address a written complaint to the vice president of student services at the location where the student is enrolled and to the vice chancellor of human resources. The current address and phone number of the vice chancellor of human resources shall be published in the College District directory, in the human resources offices, on the College District's web page, and in other locations available to employees.
  • If the alleged offender is a College District employee, the aggrieved employee should address a written complaint to a campus president or to the vice chancellor of human resources.
  • Upon receipt of a report or charge of harassment, a campus president or vice president of student services shall promptly notify the vice chancellor of human resources in writing or through electronic mail. Thereafter, the vice chancellor of human resources or a third party approved by the chancellor will promptly commence an investigation of the complaint. Investigations ordinarily will be initiated within five business days. Pending the outcome of a complaint, the chancellor or the college president may temporarily transfer or reassign the accused or the complainant if the circumstances warrant such action. The chancellor or his designees may place a contract employee on suspension with pay pending the final resolution of a complaint; non-contract employees may be suspended with or without pay, depending on the circumstances.

The investigator(s) will prepare a written report and, if warranted, recommend appropriate corrective action. The investigator(s) shall consider the severity and frequency of the conduct, the relationship of and history between the parties, where the harassment occurred, and whether there has been other past incidents involving the same alleged perpetrator. Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a determination based on the totality of the circumstances. A copy of the report shall be provided to the complainant and the accused.

  • If the alleged offender is a student, then the investigator(s) shall present the report to the vice president of student services for disposition and imposition of a penalty, if any. The vice president may, in lieu of or in addition to disciplinary sanctions, require the alleged offender to attend a College-sponsored seminar or program on preventing unlawful harassment. The accused may appeal the vice president's decision to the campus discipline committee. The charged student may appeal the decision of the campus discipline committee to the campus president. The decision of the campus president is final. It should be noted that the campus president may make his/her determination based solely on a review of written materials and evidence related to the case.
  • If the alleged offender is an employee, then the investigator(s) shall present the report to the campus administration or system administration, as appropriate, for disposition and imposition of a penalty, if any. The administration may, in lieu of or in addition to disciplinary sanctions, require the alleged offender to attend a College-sponsored seminar or program on preventing unlawful harassment. If the proposed penalty is termination, then the procedures in Policy IV-G-1 shall be followed for contract employees, and Policy IV-G-2 shall be followed for non-contract employees. If the penalty does not involve termination, the accused may appeal the decision by filing a grievance in accordance with Policy IV-J, starting at the grievance committee level.
  • If the complainant is dissatisfied with the disposition of his or her complaint, then the complainant may appeal to the chancellor. The written notice of appeal must be filed within five business days of the decision. The chancellor or designee shall meet with the complainant within 14 business days to consider the complainant's appeal. The chancellor or designee may request written submissions from the complainant, the accused, and/or the investigator regarding the merits of the appeal. The chancellor or designee shall issue a ruling in writing within seven business days. All deadlines may be extended by agreement.
  • Should both parties wish to appeal the disposition of a complaint, the proceedings permitted by this policy may be consolidated at the discretion of the chancellor or designee so long as this consolidation does not prejudice either party.

Should the investigation reveal that the allegations were knowingly false or made in bad faith, disciplinary action against the complainant may be recommended. Such disciplinary action may not be imposed without the approval of the chancellor.

INFORMAL ASSISTANCE

Employees who desire further explanatory information about unlawful harassment or this policy are encouraged to discuss their questions with the vice chancellor of human resources.

ROLE OF SUPERVISORS IN THE PREVENTION OF HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE

When a supervisor or administrator becomes aware of harassment incidents within his or her area of authority, even in the absence of a formal complaint, the supervisor or administrator should make appropriate inquiries to evaluate whether further action is needed, e.g., the supervisor or administrator may meet with the recipient of alleged harassment to determine whether there is a concern that needs to be addressed. Supervisors and administrators may counsel employees about appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the workplace and may issue appropriate directives to ensure compliance with this policy. Supervisors and administrators with actual knowledge of harassment violations should report the alleged violations to the vice chancellor of human resources.

COMPLAINTS AGAINST DISTRICT OFFICIALS

Charges of harassment against the vice chancellor of human resources shall be filed directly with the chancellor. The chancellor or designee shall take appropriate action to investigate the complaint and to impose an appropriate sanction, if necessary. Charges of harassment against the chancellor or any board member shall be filed directly with the chairman of the board. If the charge is against the board chairman, the complaint shall be submitted to the vice chairman. The board or its designee shall take appropriate action to investigate the complaint and to impose an appropriate sanction, if necessary. The board may employ an outside investigator if necessary.

HARASSMENT OF STUDENTS

Students may file harassment complaints in accordance with the procedures found in the San Jacinto College District Student Handbook.

PREVENTION

The board recognizes that prevention is the best tool for the elimination of unlawful harassment and conditions conducive to unlawful harassment. Therefore, the chancellor will take all necessary steps to prevent and eliminate unlawful harassment including, but not limited to:

  • Developing and publishing procedures for the prompt and equitable investigation and resolution of complaints.
  • Distributing this policy to employees and students through public notices and/or handbooks.
  • Ensuring that in-house training workshops on harassment and discrimination are established and regularly offered.
  • Publishing harassment materials where appropriate.
  • Including an explanation of the College District's anti-harassment policy during student and employee orientation.