File:  ACAB

SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY FOR EMPLOYEES

 I.                   Statement of Purpose

The West Springfield School Committee seeks to promote a work environment that is free from all forms of sexual harassment. 

II.                Definition

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is an “unlawful employment practice” under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and M.G.L. c. 151B.

The term “Sexual Harassment” shall mean unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature when: 

1.   Submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made whether explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or a basis for employment decisions;

2.   Such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

III.       Statement of Policy

A.     Scope of the Policy

This policy extends to all persons employed by the West Springfield Public Schools.  This policy also pertains to those firms and individuals who are contracted to perform work for the West Springfield Public Schools or to those applying for work with the West Springfield Public Schools.  The West Springfield School Committee expressly prohibits any form of sexual harassment among its employees.  No employee shall exercise authority or responsibilities in such a manner as to make submission to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal, non-verbal, or physical behavior of a sexual nature a term or condition of employment. 

B.     Supervisory Responsibilities

Each member of the West Springfield Public Schools’ staff who has a supervisory relationship over other employees has an affirmative responsibility of creating an atmosphere free of discrimination or harassment, sexual or otherwise.  Further, all supervisory personnel have the responsibility to consult the complaint procedures that have been established for this policy. 

IV.       Sexual Harassment within the Workplace

A.     General Considerations

The West Springfield Public Schools expect that each and every employee shall respect the rights of his/her co-workers in a comfortable and harassment-free environment.  To work toward this level of mutual respect and understanding, an employee should let another employee know when that person’s behavior or activity is considered offensive and/or leads to uncomfortable working conditions.  However, such self-advocacy is not a prerequisite to having the complaint investigated/resolved by the District personnel.  Once made aware that such a condition exists, such behavior or activity shall cease immediately and permanently.

B.     Explanation of Sexual Harassment

In its simplest expression, sexual harassment is unwelcome verbal or non-verbal actions or physical contact of a sexual nature that impacts on the conditions of employment.  These generally constitute two (2) forms of behavior, which have been recognized as sexual harassment and which have been defined as follows:

1.   There is the “quid pro quo” form of sexual harassment which occurs when the harassment is used by the offending individual as the basis for employment decisions affecting the victim:

       a.                   demanding sexual favors accompanied by overt threats concerning one’s job security, performance evaluation, assignments, etc.

        b.         engaging in reprisals (not granting promotions, assigning undesirable tasks, making negative statements about the victim's personal or work conduct, etc.) as a result of an individual’s refusing to engage in social/sexual behavior.

2.   The other form of sexual harassment is “hostile working environment” sexual harassment. Some examples of sexually harassing conduct which can lead to a finding of hostile work environment when the conduct is serious, pervasive and interferes with the ability to function in the workplace, include the following:

        a.  verbal or non-verbal abuse of a sexual nature;

        b.  making negative or offensive comments, jokes, innuendoes, suggestions about another person’s gender or sexuality;   

        c.   using slang terms, names, or labels, such as “honey,” “sweetie,” “boy,” “girl” that others find offensive;

        d.  offensive and unwelcome touching of any kind;

        e.  displaying sexually suggestive pictures, objects, cartoons, posters, or other pornographic materials;

        f.   continuing to ask a person to socialize after work when that person has verbally indicated no interest in such activities;

        g.  subtle pressure for sexual activities; e.g., continuing to write suggestive notes or letters after being informed they are unwelcome.

Rewritten:  Atty Tate (November 2010 & Revised January 21, 2011)
First Reading:  Policy Subcommittee (December 27, 2010)
Second Reading:  January 11, 2011, February 28, 2011 (revisions only)
Approval:  February 28, 2011

Policy Subcommittee review and approve: March 13, 2013
School Committee approval:  April 8, 2013