Sexual harassment
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Sexual Harassment. It’s fairly straightforward: sexual harassment can cause emotional damage ruin personal lives end careers. It can also cost money; lots of money.. And one more thing – sexual harassment is illegal. Sexual Harassment.

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Sexual Harassment

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Sexual Harassment


It’s fairly straightforward:

  • sexual harassment can cause emotional damage

  • ruin personal lives

  • end careers.

  • It can also cost money; lots of money..

  • And one more thing – sexual harassment is illegal.

Sexual Harassment


  • The best tools to help conquer and eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace

  • Prevention

  • Education

  • Intervention

Sexual Harassment


  • School districts are not immune:

  • It occurs in school districts all across the state.

  • It is committed by:

    a. Teachers

    b. Principals

    c. Administrators

    d. Supervisors

    e. Co-workers

    f. Parents

    g. Even students

Sexual Harassment


Harassment does not violate federal law unless it involves discriminatory treatment on the basis of:

  • race

  • color

  • sex

  • religion

  • national origin

  • age of 40 or older

  • disability

Harassment in Broad Terms


  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man.

  • The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex as the harasser.

  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee (parent, vendor, etc.)

Sexual Harassment Defined


  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without any financial loss to the victim or discharge of the victim.

  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome

Sexual Harassment Defined


There are basically two different types of sexual harassment claims:

  • Quid Pro Quo

  • Hostile work environment.

Sexual Harassment Defined


Otherwise known as “‘this for that”.

This type of harassment occurs when a supervisor or any individual in an authority position requests sex, or a sexual relationship, in exchange for not firing or otherwise punishing the employee, or in exchange for favors, such as promotions or raises.

Quid Pro Quo


  • The most common type of sexual harassment found in school districts. 

  • The behavior must be so pervasive as to create an intimidating and offensive work environment.

Hostile Work Environment


  • Occurs through the presence of:

    a. demeaning or unwelcome visual

    b. verbal behavior,

    c. sexual photographs, jokes,

    d. threats. 

Hostile Work Environment


  • The frequency of the alleged inappropriate behavior (one comment would not suffice)

  • The severity of the behavior

  • The conduct of the victim

  • The context of the alleged harassment

  • Whether other individuals if put in the place of the victim would have also found the environment to be hostile

Evaluating Hostile Work Environment


  • Generally speaking, conduct is unwelcome:

  • In that the employee does not solicit or incite it.

  • The sense that the employee regards the conduct as undesirable or offensive.

  • When confronted with conflicting evidence as to whether the conduct was welcome, the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances should be evaluated.

What is “Unwelcome?”


  • The conduct is quite severe, a single incident or isolated incidents of offensive sexual conduct or remarks generally do not create an abusive environment. A hostile environment claim generally requires a showing of a pattern of offensive conduct.

  • No one factor alone determines whether particular conduct violates the law. This goes back to carefully examining the totality of the circumstance.

What is “Hostile?”


  • Harassment committed by the victim’s supervisor

  • Non-supervisor harassment.

Liability Issues


  • An employer is always responsible for harassment by a supervisor that culminates in a tangible employment action

  • If the harassment did not lead to a tangible employment action, the employer is liable unless:

    a. It exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassment

    b. The employee unreasonably failed to complain to management or to avoid harm otherwise.

Harassment Committed by the Victim’s Supervisor


  • Significant change in employment status

    a. hiring

    b. firing

    c. promotion

    d. failure to promote

    e. demotion

    f. undesirable reassignment

What is a tangible employment action?


  • Employee’s have a responsibility to report incidents of harassment to the district

  • The employee must also take reasonable steps to avoid the harm

  • Failure to report or failure to give the district a chance to correct the problem may result in a finding that a lawsuit by the victim may not go forward

  • This includes complaints of harassment by individuals outside the school district i.e., parents, vendors, etc.

Liability Issues (cont.)


  • Report the Incident to your direct

    Supervisor

  • Director

  • Human Resources Administrator

Making a Complaint


  • Reporting is key.

  • Get more information regarding your rights through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Making a Complaint


  • A fact-finding investigation is necessary, it should be launched

  • The individual who conducts the investigation will objectively gather and consider the relevant facts.

  • Possible action that may be taken during the investigation:

    a. transferring the alleged harasser

    b. non-disciplinary leave

Investigating Complaints


  • Oral or written warning, or reprimand

  • Transfer or reassignment demotion

  • Reduction of wages

  • Suspension

  • Discharge

  • Training or counseling for harasser

  • Monitoring of harasser

Taking Action: Examples of Measures to Stop the Harassment and Prevent Recurrence


  • Apology by the harasser

  • Restoration of leave taken because of harassment

  • Reinstatement

  • Expungment of negative evaluation that may have arisen because of harassment

Taking Action: Examples to Correct the Effects of the Harassment


  • A district’s responsibility :

    a. A district’s responsibility to exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct harassment is not limited to implementing an anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure

  • Correct harassment regardless of whether an employee files an internal complaint, if the conduct is clearly unwelcome.

Wrap Up


  • Every employee has the responsibility to act in a professional, respectful way toward co-workers

  • In the end, you will be held responsible for your conduct.

  • Be mindful of the situations you put yourself in.

  • Our work environments should model those behaviors that are appropriate examples for our students.

Wrap Up


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