Harassment Policy

The following harassment policy is in furtherance of the Mentor Public Library’s commitment to providing employees with a positive working environment and is intended, in part, to provide employees with guidance for maintaining positive working relationships within the Library and with those having business with the Library.

1. Policy:
The Library is committed to maintaining a professional work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.  Each individual has the right to work in an atmosphere that promotes equal opportunities and prohibits discriminatory practices, including harassment.  State and Federal law prohibits discrimination based upon a protected class, including race, color, age, religion, creed, sex, national origin or qualifying disability in all employment practices, including conditions of employment. Harassment of an employee on any of these bases violates these laws. The Library will neither condone nor tolerate such acts of discrimination, including harassment, by any supervisor or employee under any circumstances.  Appropriate corrective action will be taken if any supervisor or fellow employee is found guilty of discrimination or harassment.

2. Discrimination:
Discrimination occurs when an adverse employment action is taken and is based upon a protected class.

3. Harassment:
Conduct whether verbal, non-verbal or physical constitutes harassment if it is based on a person’s protected status and creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment that unreasonably interferes with work or negatively affects an individual’s employment opportunities. Harassment can occur between coworkers, an employee and supervisor, or an employee and a non-employee who uses or otherwise has business with the Library. The Library is committed to providing a workplace that is free of harassment based on race, color, age, religion, creed, sex, national origin or disability. When used herein, “harassment” includes sexual harassment.

4. Sexual Harassment:
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that takes place under the following conditions:  (1) submission to or rejection of this conduct by an individual is used explicitly or implicitly as a factor in decisions affecting hiring, evaluation, promotion, pay increases, termination or other aspects of employment, or (2) this conduct substantially interferes with an individual’s employment or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to the following:

a. Unwanted sexual advances;
b. Demands for sexual favors in exchange for favorable treatment or continued employment;
c. Repeated sexual jokes, flirtations, advances or propositions;
d. Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic, verbal commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies;
e. Repeated leering or whistling that can leave no doubt of its sexual intent;
f. Unauthorized and unwanted touching; pinching or any other intentional type of unnecessary and unwelcome physical contact;
g. Assault;
h. Coerced sexual acts;
i. Suggestive insulting, obscene comments or gestures; and/or
j. Display or communication, electronically or otherwise, in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects, pictures or written materials.

This behavior is unacceptable in the workplace itself and by any employee, in any setting involving Library business and outside the workplace, including but not limited to, other work-related settings such as business trips and Library approved events that employees attend.

5. Consenting Relationships:

Consenting romantic and sexual relationships between employees of the Library, while not expressly forbidden, are considered very unwise and are strongly discouraged because factors such as real or perceived power of one person over another within the Library may override claims of consent at a later date.

Furthermore, consenting romantic and/or sexual relationships between an employee and someone else in a supervisory or evaluating relationship constitute a conflict of interest. Both the employee and the other person in a supervisory capacity that are involved in such a relationship have the mutual responsibility to eliminate the conflict of interest.

Supervisors and employees who are in the position to influence employment decisions about others with whom they are in a romantic and/or sexual relationship shall, under penalty of disciplinary action, recuse themselves from such decisions.

In the event of an allegation of sexual harassment, the Library will scrutinize a defense based upon consent when the facts establish that an institutional power differential existed within the relationship.

6. Individuals Covered by the Policy:
This policy covers all employees and officials. The Library will not tolerate discrimination or harassment, whether engaged in by fellow employees, supervisors, officials or by non-employees who conduct business with the Library.

7. Reporting Procedure:
Any individual who believes he or she has been subject to discrimination or harassment, and any individual who witnesses discrimination or harassment, should immediately report the incident to his or her supervisor, Human Resources Director, the Executive Director or the President of the Board of Trustees. All reports of discrimination or harassment should be documented in writing by the reporting individual. Although not specifically required for the purposes of making a written complaint, a complaint form for making such a complaint is preferred and may be obtained by request to a supervisor, Human Resources Director, the Executive Director or the President of the Board of Trustees or may be provided by the individual investigating the complaint.

Filing a complaint with the Library does not preclude the individual from filing a complaint with an external agency, nor does it extend time limits with those agencies.

8. Investigation:
The Library, or designated investigator, will promptly investigate all reports of alleged discrimination or harassment. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the investigation to the extent practical and appropriate under the circumstances. Both the reporting individual and the alleged offender, as well as witnesses interviewed, should be reminded of the confidential nature of the process.

The investigation will most likely involve interviewing and obtaining written statements from the reporting individual, the alleged offender and the supervisor (if necessary) and, if applicable, witnesses. Individuals who are questioned as part of the investigation shall not knowingly provide or make an untrue statement of fact regarding such complaint. Individuals found to have deliberately made false statements in the course of the investigation will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

9. Resolution of the Complaint:
Upon completion of the investigation, the findings and intended actions will be communicated to the reporting individual and to the alleged offender.  When it is determined that discrimination or harassment has occurred, steps will be taken to prevent any further discrimination or harassment. Corrective measures will be imposed and the offending individual will be subject to appropriate discipline. Disciplinary action may include a written reprimand, referral to counseling, withholding of a promotion, reassignment, temporary suspension without pay, demotion from a supervisory position, or discharge and termination.

10. Protection Against Retaliation:
The Library will not retaliate against an individual who makes a report of discrimination or harassment, nor permit any official or employee to do so.  Retaliation is a very serious violation of this policy and should be reported immediately. Any individual found to have retaliated against an individual for reporting discrimination or harassment, or against anyone participating in the investigation of a complaint, will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

11. False Accusations:
Legitimate complaints made in good faith are strongly encouraged; however, if an investigation results in a finding that the reporting individual falsely and maliciously accused another of discrimination or harassment, the reporting individual will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Failure to prove a claim of discrimination or harassment is not equivalent to a false accusation.

12. Review:
An employee filing a complaint or the employee accused of sexual harassment who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Library following the investigation of the sexual harassment complaint has the right to request that the complaint and records of the investigation be reviewed by the Board of Trustees by filing a written request for review with the Secretary of the Board within 14 days from the date that the person requesting review has been notified of the Library’s decision. The Board of Trustees shall, within a reasonable period of time, make a determination as to whether upholding, reversing or modifying the earlier decision of the Library is warranted. In the event that the Board of Trustees determines that, prior to making its decision, further investigation of the matter is required, it may order the same to be accomplished.

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