The concept of equal employment opportunity is firmly rooted in our society. Beginning with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—and continuing with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991—the categories of individuals who are protected in federal law from discrimination, harassment and retaliation in all terms and conditions of employment have expanded steadily. State and local laws have also evolved, and continue to evolve, to offer more protections.
Moreover, the consequences for committing discrimination, harassment or retaliation have increased significantly. Most notably, to address claims of employment discrimination, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 permits employees to seek compensatory and punitive damages of up to $300,000. State and local laws, in many instances, provide for greater relief than federal law by not limiting the available compensatory and punitive damages.
The first step any employer should take to ensure that all employees work in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and in which they can succeed on their own merits, is to affirm its commitment to the principles of equal opportunity employment. An employer should also specify that it prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment. Further, managers and supervisors should receive regular training, on at least an annual basis, to ensure they do not violate the terms of these statutes, many of which are complex. In many states, training is required on an annual basis. The legislature’s commitment to equal employment opportunity, anti-discrimination, harassment and retaliation also should be communicated to employees through official postings within the workplace, which are required by state and federal laws. Each employee’s commitment to adhering to the employer’s policies shall be clearly stated in the acknowledgment form to be completed by each employee upon receipt of the personnel manual.
Legislative organizations should make sure to review state and local laws and consult legal counsel to ensure compliance with state and federal requirements when drafting these policies.
Sample Language and Policies
Equal Employment Opportunity
[Agency or Legislature] is committed to equal employment opportunity. It is and shall be the continuing policy of the [Agency or Legislature] that all qualified persons will be afforded equal employment opportunities. This means that all employment decisions will comply with federal, state and local laws, and will be made without any consideration of race, color, age, religion, sex, gender, pregnancy, citizenship status, military or veteran status, national origin, ethnicity, disability, genetic predisposition, or any other trait or characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. [Agency or Legislature] will not discriminate against employees or applicants for employment on any of these legally recognized bases.
To provide equal employment and advancement opportunities to all employees and job applicants, employment decisions at the [Agency or Legislature] are based on merit, qualifications, abilities, and other lawful factors. This Equal Employment Opportunity Policy applies to all aspects of employment including hiring, placement, promotion, layoff, recall, transfer, leave of absence, job assignment, compensation, discipline, termination, and access to benefits and training, and all other terms and conditions of employment.
As required by law, the [Agency or Legislature] will provide reasonable and appropriate assistance to employees or job applicants who are disabled or require a religious accommodation and who have made the [Agency or Legislature] aware of the disability or required accommodation, provided that such accommodation does not constitute an undue hardship on the [Agency or Legislature].
Any employee who intentionally violates this policy may be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including the termination of employment.
[Agency or Legislature] is committed to equal opportunity and respect for each employee. It is, and has been, the [Agency or Legislature]’s policy that all employees should be able to enjoy a professional work environment, which shall be free of discrimination and other unlawful harassment. In that regard, the [Agency or Legislature] strictly prohibits all forms of unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation, whether committed by or against its managers, employees, supervisors, coworkers, customers, clients, vendors or visitors, and whether it occurs while at work or at work-related events. Unlawful discrimination, harassment, and retaliation make it impossible for us to achieve our goals as an organization or to provide the highest level of service to our constituents and are inconsistent with maintaining a productive work environment.
[Agency or Legislature] has a policy of zero tolerance with respect to unlawful discrimination or harassment of any kind. [Agency or Legislature] will not tolerate any speech or conduct that is intended to abuse or harass, or has the effect of abusing or harassing any employee because of the employee’s race, color, age, religion, sex, gender, pregnancy, citizenship status, military or veteran status, national origin, ethnicity, disability, genetic predisposition, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.
Employees and applicants for employment may not be treated differently based on their status in one of the protected categories listed above under “Equal Employment Opportunity.”
All employees should be able to enjoy a work environment that is free of unlawful harassment. [Agency or Legislature] will not tolerate any speech or conduct that abuses or harasses any employee, or any verbal or physical conduct that shows disrespect or hostility toward an individual because of her/his status in one of the protected categories listed above under “Equal Employment Opportunity.”
[Agency or Legislature] also will not tolerate any verbal or physical conduct that:
Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. The [Agency or Legislature] is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. This may include providing a reasonable accommodation when appropriate in order for an otherwise qualified individual to perform the essential functions of the job. It is your responsibility to notify [insert the name of the appropriate person, title department], in writing, of need for accommodation. Upon doing so, you may be asked for your input on the type of accommodation you believe may be necessary or the functional limitations caused by your disability. Also, when appropriate, we may need your permission to obtain additional information from your physician or other medical or rehabilitation professionals. [Agency or Legislature] will not seek genetic information in connection with requests for accommodation. All medical information received by [Agency or Legislature] in connection with a request for accommodation will be treated as confidential.
No person covered by this policy shall be subject to adverse employment action, including being discharged, disciplined, discriminated against, or otherwise subject to adverse employment action because the employee reports an incident of sexual harassment, provides information, or otherwise assists in any investigation of sexual harassment. Unlawful retaliation can be any action that would keep an employee from coming forward to make or support a harassment or discrimination claim. Adverse action need not be job-related or occur in the workplace to constitute unlawful retaliation.
[Agency or Legislature] has a zero-tolerance policy and prohibits any form of retaliation against anyone who makes a complaint under this policy, who assists in a complaint investigation, testifies in a related proceeding, or who opposes any practices that they consider to be unlawful discrimination or harassment. This includes employees who file complaints with the EEOC, or any state or local agency charged with enforcing discrimination laws, or employees who participate in any proceedings before the EEOC, or any state or local agency. Any employee who believes that they have been subjected to retaliation or witnessed any retaliatory conduct should report it immediately to [Agency or Legislature] in accordance with the complaint procedure above. Retaliation, like harassment, discrimination and abusive conduct, is a form of prohibited employee misconduct, and a serious violation of this policy, which will subject offenders to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
[Agency or Legislature] is committed to maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. [Agency or Legislature] has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual harassment, and all employees are required to work in a manner that prevents sexual harassment in the workplace, which includes company offices, premises and work sites. This policy is one component of [Agency or Legislature]’s commitment to a discrimination-free work environment.
Sexual harassment is against the law. All employees have a legal right to a workplace free of sexual harassment, and any other form of discrimination or harassment, and employees can enforce this right by filing a complaint internally with [insert the name of the appropriate person, title or department], or with a government agency or in court under federal, state or local antidiscrimination laws.
Prohibition Against Sexual Harassment
[Agency or Legislature] prohibits sexual harassment of its employees in any form. It is considered employee misconduct and disciplinary sanctions, up to and including termination of employment, will be issued against any employee who violates this policy and engages in any form of sexual harassment, and any executive, supervisor or manager who knowingly allows sexual harassment to continue. The prohibition on sexual harassment applies to all employees and other persons in the workplace, and includes:
- Sexual harassment committed by any employee, supervisor, manager or any other [Agency or Legislature] representative or agent.
- Sexual harassment committed by applicants for employment, interns (whether paid or unpaid), contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or other persons providing services in the workplace pursuant to a contract, and any employee of such third parties.
- Sexual harassment of employees, including co-workers and colleagues, supervisors, managers, and any other [Agency or Legislature] representatives or agents.
- Sexual harassment of non-employees in the workplace. This includes contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultants or other persons providing services to [Agency or Legislature] pursuant to a contract, and any employee of such third parties. This also includes persons commonly referred to as independent contractors, “gig” workers and temporary workers, and persons providing equipment repair, cleaning services or any other services provided pursuant to a contract with [Agency or Legislature].
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of employee misconduct, and sanctions will be imposed on individuals who engage in sexual harassment and supervisory personnel who knowingly allow sexual harassment to continue. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender. There are generally two types of sexual harassment. In “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, a person with actual or apparent authority (such as a supervisor or manager) uses that authority to extort sexual favors from an employee. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when submission to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is made a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or where submission or rejection of such sexual conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual. If employment benefits are contingent on sexual cooperation, quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred. For example, a supervisor who asks for a sexual favor in exchange for a wage increase, promotion or good job performance is engaging in quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment also may take the form of hostile work environment harassment, in which an individual endures a work environment in which unwelcome sexual conduct, whether verbal or physical, is so pervasive that it interferes with an employee’s work environment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. A sexually harassing hostile work environment may consist of 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 orientation, gender identity or transgender status. A hostile work environment includes sexual advances or sexual behavior directed at an employee, and nonsexual behavior directed at the employee because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender status, and sexually charged workplace behavior. The offending conduct may be directed at the employee, or it may pervade the work environment such that it adversely effects an employee’s work environment.
A single incident of inappropriate sexual behavior may be enough to rise to the level of sexual harassment, depending on the severity of such incident. The law requires that the behavior be severe or pervasive, so that one joke or comment may not be enough to be sexual harassment. However, the courts have held that a single incident can be considered sexual harassment, depending on the circumstances.
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:
- Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment;
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting an individual’s employment.
- 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 complaining individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment.
The following are examples of inappropriate conduct that is prohibited:
- Offensive comments, jokes, innuendoes and other sexually oriented statements.
- Sexually suggestive objects, books, magazines, photographs, cartoons, pictures, calendars, posters, electronic communications or other materials.
- Unwanted sexual advances.
- Subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors.
- Sexual jokes or innuendoes.
- Unwanted sexual advances or propositions, including requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning the victim’s job performance evaluation, a promotion or other job benefits or detriments, and subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities.
- Verbal abuse of a sexual nature.
- Graphic commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies, appearance or clothing.
- Rape, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit these assaults.
- Leering, whistling, touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against another person’s body, or poking another employee’s body.
- Suggestive, insulting, or obscene comments or gestures.
- Display in the workplace of sexually suggestive material, objects or pictures.
- Other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature.
- Offering favorable terms of employment in exchange for sexual favors or threatening less favorable terms if sexual favors are refused.
Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender. All conduct prohibited by this policy is unacceptable in the workplace, and in any work-related setting outside the workplace.
Sexual harassment can occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex or gender. As noted above, 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. A perpetrator of sexual harassment can be a superior, a subordinate, a co-worker or anyone in the workplace, including an independent contractor, contract worker, vendor, client, customer or visitor.
Every manager and supervisor is responsible for creating and fostering an atmosphere free of discrimination and harassment, sexual or otherwise. All employees are responsible for respecting the rights of their coworkers.
Unlawful sexual harassment is not limited to the physical workplace itself, including [Agency or Legislature]’s offices, premises and work sites. It also 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 or work sites or during non-working hours.
Legal Protections and External Remedies
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination and is prohibited by federal and state law. Under the federal law commonly known as Title VII and the [applicable state law]. Title VII only applies to employers with at least 15 employees. It also may be prohibited by local law. In addition to the [Agency or Legislature]’s internal complaint procedure, employees may choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental agencies at any time as explained below.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
A federal agency—the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—is charged with enforcing Title VII and is responsible for the intake, investigation and conciliation of charges of discrimination, including sexual harassment, under Title VII. An individual may file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 days of the harassment or discrimination. There is no cost to file a complaint with the EEOC, which will investigate the complaint and determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred, at which point it will try to resolve the matter with the employer or 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. Under Title VII, an employee may recover back pay, including salary and fringe benefits; front pay and benefits; compensatory damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering; punitive damages; and injunctive relief, such as reinstatement. Compensatory and punitive damages combined are capped based on the size of the employer. Attorneys’ fees may also be recovered under Title VII.
If an employee believes that he or she has been discriminated against or harassed at work, he or she may file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. The EEOC has district, area and field offices where complaints can be filed. The EEOC can be contacted at 1-800-669-4000, by visiting its website at www.eeoc.gov, or by email at email@example.com.
[Insert any relevant state or local information here]
Connecticut General Assembly
(1) Statement of Policy
The General Assembly does not tolerate sexual harassment in any form. It is the policy of the General Assembly to create and maintain a working environment in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Each individual who works at the Capitol complex or off-site where legislative business is conducted has the right to a workplace that is free from sexual harassment, both subtle and overt. Therefore, the General Assembly will strive to eliminate all sexually harassing behavior that legislators, legislative employees, interns, legislative fellows, and third parties may encounter in the course of their work at the Capitol complex or off-site where legislative business is conducted. It is the responsibility of each individual who works at the Capitol complex or off-site where legislative business is conducted to maintain a respectful work environment free from sexual harassment, sexually offensive behavior, and retaliation. Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action as described in this policy.
(2) Scope of Policy
This policy applies to legislators, legislative employees, interns assigned to the General Assembly, and legislative fellows. This policy covers the interaction of these individuals away from the Capitol complex at legislative-sponsored events, professional meetings or seminars, and those activities that involve legislative business. If not covered by this policy, the General Assembly will make reasonable efforts to assist individuals who are outside the scope of this policy in finding appropriate avenues for seeking redress or filing a complaint. Proper authorities will be notified in cases of alleged criminal misconduct.
Appointing Authority—defined in Section 4.1(3) of the Employee Handbook.
Capitol complex—the State Capitol Building, the Legislative Office Building and their parking facilities and surrounding grounds for which the Joint Committee on Legislative Management has sole responsibility for supervision, security, utilization and control, and any other location where legislative employees are permanently located.
Complainant—an individual who alleges that another individual has violated this policy.
Day—a calendar day.
Designated Office Contact—the male and female designees from each office who may serve as the first point of contact for a sexual harassment concern and whose names are published in the legislative bulletin as contacts in their office for sexual harassment complaints.
Executive Director—the executive director of the Joint Committee on Legislative Management who also functions as office director of the Office of Legislative Management.
Investigating Authority—the individual investigating an alleged violation of this policy. For purposes of this policy, the investigating authority may include human resources or an outside contractor.
Legislative employee—a regular full-time employee, regular part-time employee, sessional employee, or interim employee.
Legislative fellow—a graduate student from a university or college working temporarily in a nonpartisan office.
Legislative intern—a participant in the Legislative Intern Program or an intern brought on informally by a legislator or office.
Office Director—defined in Section 1.2 of the Employee Handbook.
Personnel Policies Subcommittee—The Senate President Pro-Tempore, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the House of Representatives, House Majority Leader, and House Minority Leader.
Respondent—an individual accused of violating this policy.
Third Party—media personnel, lobbyist, state employees who are not legislative employees, contractual employee or vendor of the General Assembly, or member of the general public having business at or visiting the Capitol complex.
(4) Sexual Harassment and Sexually Offensive Behavior Defined
Sexual harassment is defined by Section 46a-60(a)(8) of the General Statutes as "any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when:
(a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment;
(b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
(c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment."
Both the law and this policy prohibit any individual who is in a position of authority or has control over the working conditions of another from engaging in this behavior. In all cases, an express or implied request for any sexual activity in exchange for employment, promotion, or other advantage constitutes sexual harassment. Under the law, this is called "quid pro quo" sexual harassment.
(5) Hostile Work Environment
This policy also prohibits conduct that would constitute sexual harassment by creating a hostile work environment. The following is a non-exhaustive list of conduct or communications that may be offensive and therefore create a hostile working environment:
1. sexual comments, compliments, innuendoes, or suggestions about an individual’s clothing, body, sexual attributes, or sexual activity; or
2. turning of work discussions to sexual topics, such as sexual practices or preferences; or
3. telling sexual jokes or stories; or
4. using obscene or sexual words or phrases to describe an individual; or
5. unwelcome verbal advances or propositions.
1. displaying sexually explicit pictures or objects in the work area; or
2. unwelcome giving of personal gifts of any nature; or
3. making unwelcome visits or telephone calls of a personal nature; or
4. unwelcome kissing, touching, patting, pinching, or brushing against another’s body; or
5. sexual assault; or
6. indecent exposure; or
7. unwelcome electronic communication of a sexual or intimate nature via email, text, or social media; or
8. other unwelcome sexual contact of any kind.
Both the law and this policy prohibit any individual from engaging in this behavior.
These examples are illustrative of the communications and conduct that may constitute a hostile working environment if unwelcome and depending upon the totality of the circumstances. In that regard, the following should be kept in mind:
(i) A single incident may or may not constitute sexual harassment.
(ii) Whether a particular action is sexual harassment will depend on the facts and determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
(iii) Conduct or communications that might be welcome to one individual may be unwelcome to another individual. Conduct or communications that might have been welcome between two individuals at one time may become unwelcome at a later time.
(iv) Other conduct or a communication not expressly described in the examples, but which is substantially similar to the examples, may be a violation of this policy.
Adverse actions taken in retaliation against an individual for reporting sexual harassment or for participating in an investigation of a claim of harassment constitute a serious violation of this policy, and like harassment itself, will be subject to disciplinary action. Retaliation may include, but is not limited to, denial of a promotion, a demotion, intimidation, harassment, or conduct by anyone in the workplace that could reasonably be expected to have an adverse impact on an individual’s performance. Any individual who believes that he or she may have been the subject of retaliation should report that information to human resources.
(7) Responsibility of legislators, legislative employees, interns and fellows
An individual shall not engage in behavior that constitutes sexual harassment, retaliation or related misconduct. The General Assembly will not tolerate violations of this policy and encourages individuals who have been subjected to sexual harassment, retaliation or related misconduct to report such acts as soon as possible, but not later than 180 days after a violation has occurred in order to preserve the complainant’s rights before the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). The General Assembly is committed to investigating complaints brought forth at any time and all complaints will be given a thoughtful, thorough and timely response.
(8) Supervisor Responsibility
Each supervisor has a responsibility to monitor working conditions in order to detect violations and to be proactive and take corrective action, assuring that all complaints receive a thoughtful, thorough and timely response.
(9) Human Resources Responsibility
Human resources has a responsibility to strive to maintain a workplace free of any form of sexual harassment, retaliation or related misconduct, to monitor working conditions in order to detect violations and to be proactive and take corrective action immediately. Human resources is also responsible for disseminating the Sexual Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure, providing sexual harassment prevention training and monitoring compliance under subdivision (10), and assuring that all complaints receive a thoughtful, thorough and timely response.
(10) Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
All regular employees are required to take two hours of training within 6 months of hire and every two years thereafter. Sessional employees, legislative interns and fellows are also required to attend sexual harassment prevention training. Newly elected legislators are required to take two hours of training not later than February 1 or, in the case of a special election, within 30 days of being sworn in, whichever is earlier. Training is required every two years thereafter. The General Assembly shall provide an annual informational session to inform third parties of the legislative policy and procedures.
B. Policy on Sexual Harassment Complaints
All complaints are presumed to be made in good faith.
The following principles shall be observed in the complaint procedure:
(a) Complaints shall be handled in a manner that will assure confidentiality to
the extent that is appropriate.
(b) The rights of the complainant shall be respected. These rights include the
rights to bring a complaint without retaliation and to notice of action taken
on the complaint.
(c) The rights of the respondent also shall be respected. These rights include the right to notice of the content of the complaint, and an opportunity to address the accusations.
(d) Appropriate records and documentation of each complaint and how the complaint is remedied shall be maintained by the Office of Legislative Management.
(e) All concerned shall make every effort to resolve a complaint in the most expedient manner possible.
Each complaint will be investigated promptly by interviewing the complainant, the respondent, witnesses or any other individual having direct knowledge and by considering the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident or incidents which form the basis of the complaint.
C. Complaint Procedures—within the General Assembly
A sexual harassment complaint may be made in accordance with this subsection. Any legislator, employee or designated outside party who receives a sexual harassment complaint shall report the complaint to human resources, regardless of whether such person is designated to receive a complaint under this procedure.
When a complaint is made under this subsection, human resources shall immediately take appropriate action to ensure that the complainant and affected parties have a safe and non-hostile working environment. Human resources will respond as necessary upon finding that inappropriate workplace conduct or sexual harassment has taken place.
A complaint made under this policy may be exempted from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to the extent allowed by section 1-210(b)(2) of the General Statutes or other law, except that the complaint shall be disclosed to necessary parties under reasonable circumstances. Such reasonable circumstances may include notification of proper authorities in the case of alleged criminal misconduct or disclosure of information upon a finding of probable cause that a violation of this policy has occurred.
A complaint shall be received and investigated as follows:
(1) Informal Complaint
To foster prompt resolution and promote open communication, an individual may discuss a potential violation of this policy with any of the following persons without filing a formal complaint:
(a) An immediate supervisor;
(b) A chief of staff or office director;
(c) Human resources;
(d) An appointing authority;
(e) A designated office contact; or
(f) A neutral outside party (source to be determined through an open bid process)
Filing an informal complaint under this subdivision does not preclude an individual from pursuing other available options.
(2) Formal Complaint
A formal complaint may be filed within a reasonable time after the event or occurrence
giving rise to the complaint, but not later than 180 days after a violation has occurred in order to preserve the complainant’s rights before the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO).
(a) Complaint by a Legislator, Legislative Employee, Legislative Fellow or Legislative Intern
A complaint by a legislator, employee, fellow or intern may be submitted orally or in writing to any one of the following:
(i) An immediate supervisor;
(ii) A chief of staff or office director;
(iii) Human resources;
(iv) An appointing authority;
(v) A designated office contact; or
(vi) A neutral outside party (source to be determined through an open bid process)
If a complaint is made against the Executive Director, the Human Resources Administrator shall provide written notice of the complaint to each member of the Personnel Policies Subcommittee.
(b) Complaint by a third party
A complaint by a third party may be submitted orally or in writing to any one of the following:
(i) Human resources;
(ii) A chief of staff or office director;
(iii) An appointing authority;
(iv) A designated office contact; or
(v) A neutral outside party (source to be determined through an open bid process)
(c) Complaint against a Third Party
A complaint against a third party may be submitted orally or in writing to any one of the following:
(i) Human resources;
(ii) A chief of staff or office director;
(iii) An appointing authority;
(iv) A designated office contact; or
(v) A neutral outside party (source to be determined through an open bid process)
(3) Complaint Procedure
If an individual files a complaint, or it is determined by human resources that an investigation is warranted, an investigation will ensue. If deemed appropriate, an outside contractor may be called on to investigate a complaint or a committee of inquiry may be appointed to further examine the matter.
The investigating authority shall:
(a) ascertain the complainant’s name, job title, and workplace address and phone number;
(b) obtain a description of the facts and circumstances the complainant believes constitute the basis for the complaint;
(c) inquire if the complainant spoke directly to the respondent, the results, and why the results are not satisfactory;
(d) determine the type of corrective action the complainant seeks.
The investigating authority shall investigate the complaint and may meet with the complainant, respondent and others to discuss the complaint. Not later than 21 days after receiving the complaint, the investigating authority shall respond in writing to the complainant and send (if applicable) a copy of the complaint and the response to the complainant’s appointing authority and to human resources.
If the investigating authority determines more time is required to complete the investigation or render a decision, the Human Resources Administrator may extend the time limit for rendering a decision by up to 15 days.
(4) Completed investigation; Reprimand
Violations of this policy will result in discipline as outlined below. As a general rule, discipline will be assessed proportionate to the seriousness of the violation.
A. Action against legislative employee, intern or legislative fellow
If the investigating authority determines that a legislative employee, intern or legislative fellow has violated this policy, the Human Resources Administrator shall provide written notice of the determination to the person's appointing authority. The appointing authority will impose discipline which may include:
(i) Oral or written warning,
(iii) Suspension, with or without pay,
(iv) Reduction in pay or job classification, and
(v) Discharge for misconduct.
B. Action against legislator
If the investigating authority determines that the Senate President Pro Tempore, Senate Majority Leader or Senate Minority Leader has violated this policy, the Human Resources Administrator shall provide written notice of the determination to the Senate Chairpersons or Senate Ranking Members of the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to judiciary and government administration and elections, who are of the same political party as the President Pro Tempore, Majority Leader or Minority Leader who was found to have violated this policy.
If the investigating authority determines that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, House Majority Leader or House Minority Leader has violated this policy, the Human Resources Administrator shall provide written notice of the determination to the House Chairperson or House Ranking Member of the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to judiciary and government administration and elections, who are of the same political party as the Speaker, Majority Leader or Minority Leader who was found to have violated this policy.
If the investigating authority determines that any other legislator has violated this policy, the Human Resources Administrator shall provide written notice of the determination to the legislative leader and the chief of staff of the legislator’s caucus.
Any person who receives written notice of a determination that a legislator has violated this policy shall impose or recommend discipline, which may include:
(i) Oral or written warning,
(iii) Reassignment, with any corresponding reduction in pay,
(iv) Appointment of a committee of inquiry to further examine the matter, and
(v) Expulsion from the General Assembly pursuant to the rules of the applicable
house and Article III, Section 13 of the Connecticut Constitution.
C. Action against a third party
If the investigating authority determines that a third party or other individual who is not a legislator, legislative employee, intern or legislative fellow has violated this policy, the Human Resources Administrator shall provide written notice of the determination to each member of the Personnel Policies Subcommittee, and discipline may be imposed, which may include:
(i) Notifying the individual’s employer;
(ii) Removal from or denying access to legislative buildings or activities, and
(iii) Any appropriate action authorized by law.
(5) Review of complaint
If the complainant is not satisfied with the determination, the complainant may request a review of the determination by his or her appointing authority. The request for review shall be in writing and shall be submitted not later than 15 days following the determination, with a copy to the investigating authority. The appointing authority or his or her designee may meet with the complainant and the investigating authority to discuss the complaint and determination. Not later than 30 days after receiving the request for review, the appointing authority shall respond in writing to the complainant.
(6) False Information and Complaints
If, after investigating a complaint, it is determined that an individual has maliciously filed a false complaint, or maliciously provided false information materially related to the complaint, appropriate disciplinary action including discipline under this subsection will be taken.
(7) Respondent employee appeal
In the event of a suspension, pay reduction or discharge for sexual harassment misconduct, a respondent employee may appeal the decision in accordance with Section 11.2 of the Employee Handbook.
A decision on the appeal shall be in writing and shall be sent to the respondent employee within 45 days following receipt of the appeal. The discipline imposed for sexual harassment misconduct will remain in effect, but may be temporarily suspended, pending a decision on the appeal.
D. Complaint procedures—with state or federal commission
An individual also may file a complaint of sexual harassment with:
(1) The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO):
450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite 2
Hartford, CT 06103
Connecticut Toll Free 1-800-477-5737
A written complaint must be filed with the CHRO within 180 days of the date when the alleged sexual harassment occurred. A complaint that is filed with the CHRO is automatically filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
(2) The EEOC Boston Area Office:
John F. Kennedy Federal Building,
475 Government Center
Boston, MA 022203
ASL Video Phone: 844-234-5122
Ordinarily, The EEOC does not investigate a complaint until the CHRO has completed its investigation. However, if the CHRO has not completed its investigation within 60 days of filing, the complainant may ask the EEOC to do so at that time. If a complainant does not file a state complaint with the CHRO, and 180 days have passed since the alleged sexual harassment occurred, the complainant may still file a complaint with the EEOC. However, the complaint must be filed with the EEOC within 300 days of the date when the alleged sexual harassment occurred.
Maryland General Assembly Department of Legislative Services
Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedures
I. Statement of General Assembly Policy
The Maryland General Assembly and the Department of Legislative Services are committed to creating and maintaining a work environment in which all employees and nonemployees that interact with the General Assembly and the Department of Legislative Services, including interns, and pages, lobbyists and reporters are treated with respect and are free from unlawful discrimination and harassment. It is the policy of the Maryland General Assembly and the Department of Legislative Services that harassment based on an individual’s race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, sex, or any other characteristic protected by law is prohibited.
A. Workplace Harassment Prohibited
Workplace harassment means any harassment based on any characteristic protected by law and has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. While workplace harassment includes sexual harassment, sexual harassment raises issues that are to some extent unique in comparison to other types of workplace harassment and is further emphasized in section B. of this policy.
B. Sexual Harassment Prohibited
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that could violate federal and State law, as well as the United States and Maryland Constitutions. Sexual harassment is illegal and is in conflict with the personnel practices and public policies of the State of Maryland. Sexual harassment by a member or employee of the Maryland General Assembly or an employee of the Department of Legislative Services is prohibited and will not be tolerated.
Sexual harassment, for the purpose of this policy, is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical contact of a sexual nature, or conduct which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex, for example:
• submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
• submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting an individual; or
• such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment, which is perceived by the individual to be abusive or hostile, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle or overt behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or a different gender. Depending on the circumstances, these behaviors may include, but are not limited to: unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; sexual jokes and innuendo; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess, or sexual deficiencies; leering, whistling, or touching; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; displaying, communicating, or distributing sexually suggestive objects, pictures, or messages in the workplace; and other physical, verbal, nonverbal, or visual conduct of a sexual nature.
II. Scope of Policy
This policy applies to members of the General Assembly and all regular, full-time, part-time, temporary and contractual employees of the legislative branch, as well as interns and pages assigned to the Maryland General Assembly or the Department of Legislative Services.
III. Procedures for Reporting, Investigating and Resolving Harassment Incidents
A. Reporting Incidents
Early reporting and intervention are most effective in resolving actual or perceived incidents of harassment, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Therefore, the Maryland General Assembly encourages individuals who believe they have been subjected to or have witnessed discrimination, harassment, or retaliation to promptly advise the offender that the behavior is unwelcome and request that it be discontinued. Often this action alone will resolve the problem. The Maryland General Assembly recognizes, however, that an individual may prefer not to address the alleged offender directly. If, for any reason, an individual does not wish to address the offender directly, or if such action does not successfully end the offensive conduct, the individual should promptly report the incident. The Maryland General Assembly encourages the prompt and good-faith reporting of incidents or concerns so that rapid and constructive action can be taken before relationships become irreparably strained and before offensive conduct continues or escalates. Individuals who believe that they have been exposed to or witnessed prohibited conduct should discuss their concerns with a supervisor, an office director of the Department of Legislative Services, the legislature’s Human Resources Manager, the Executive Director of the Department of Legislative Services, the Administrative Assistant to either Presiding Officer, the Chief of Staff for the President of the Senate, or the Chief of Staff for the Speaker of the House.
Except for a complaint filed with the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, reports of prohibited conduct may be made verbally or in writing.
A complaint that a member of the General Assembly has engaged in prohibited conduct may also be filed directly with the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics. The process and procedures for a complaint filed with or referred to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics are outlined in the Maryland General Assembly Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics Workplace Harassment Complaint Policy and Procedures.
Retaliation is prohibited. No individual covered by this Policy may be subject to adverse employment action, including being discharged, disciplined, discriminated against, or otherwise subject to adverse employment action because the individual reports an incident of sexual harassment, provides information, or otherwise assists in any investigation of a sexual harassment complaint. Actions taken in retaliation constitute a serious violation of this policy and, like harassment or discrimination itself, will be subject to disciplinary action. An individual making a report will be advised of the prohibition against retaliation at the time the individual makes the report. As appropriate, remedial measures will be discussed with the individual who made a report.
Except for a complaint filed with the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, if the problem is not resolved informally to the satisfaction of the individual who made the report, the Human Resources Manager will conduct an investigation of the report within 30 days of the complaint. The Presiding Officer for the relevant chamber of a member who is the subject of an investigation shall be advised of requests for interim remedial measures and steps taken to prevent interference and retaliation during the investigation. Any person making a report or investigating a report may request an interim remedial measure.
All information will be maintained on a confidential basis to the greatest extent possible. Only those who need to know in order to accomplish the purpose of the investigation will be provided with the identity of the complainant and the allegations. All parties, including the complainant and the alleged harasser, contacted in the course of an investigation will be advised of the necessity of confidentiality and that any breach of confidentiality will be treated as misconduct subject to disciplinary action.
If the investigation supports a finding of a violation of this policy, prompt and effective remedial action will be taken. Responsive action for a non-legislator may include, but is not limited to, warning, reprimand, training, referral to counseling, disciplinary action as the department or the Presiding Officers determine appropriate under the circumstances, withholding of a promotion or pay increase, reassignment, temporary suspension without pay, or termination.
For constitutional reasons, disciplinary action for a legislator may include warning, reprimand, reassignment, expulsion, or other punishment in accordance with Article III, Section 19 of the Maryland Constitution, including referral for further investigation by the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.
If the investigation does not support a finding that this policy has been violated, the individual making the complaint and the individual against whom the allegation was made will be advised of the determination. Both individuals will be advised that retaliation for making or participating in the investigation of the complaint is prohibited.
If a Department of Legislative Service’s employee involved in the reported incident does not agree with its resolution, that party may appeal by initiating a grievance at Step III in accordance with the grievance procedures as described in the Personnel Guidelines for the Department of Legislative Services adopted by the Legislative Policy Committee. If a General Assembly member or employee is involved in the reported incident under this policy does not agree with its resolution, that party may appeal to the appropriate Presiding Officer within 10 days of receiving notice about resolution of the complaint. Within 45 days, the presiding officer or designee will render a decision on the appeal.
IV. Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Training and Education
Beginning in 2019, and every two years thereafter, the Department of Legislative Services will conduct a climate survey of members and employees of the General Assembly and the Department of Legislative Services related to discrimination and harassment issues in the legislative branch of State government. The Department of Legislative Services will issue a report on the survey on or before October 1 of the year in which the survey is conducted.
The Department of Legislative Services will arrange for an education and training program on sexual harassment and discrimination prevention for all members and employees that meets or exceeds the requirements of State law. Legislators must receive training at the beginning of the term and two years into the term. Legislators appointed during the term will receive individualized training. Training will be specialized to members and to staff, and must occur in–person, and may not occur online.
Training for supervisory and managerial employees will address their specific responsibilities as well as the steps that such employees should take to ensure immediate and appropriate corrective action in addressing harassment complaints. Additionally, training will be provided for all authorized recipients of reports. Human Resources will undertake educational and outreach activities to further educate members and staff about harassment, discrimination, and these policies and procedures.
V. Policy Summary
This policy reflects the strong commitment of the Maryland General Assembly and the Department of Legislative Services to providing its members and employees with an environment free from unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment, and from retaliation for exercising rights under this policy. The General Assembly and the Department are committed to investigating complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation promptly and thoroughly, regardless of who brings them or against whom they are brought.
The Human Resources Manager shall report annually to the Legislative Policy Committee the number of incident reports made each year, by type of workplace harassment and resolution.
To report violations or if you have any questions about this policy, see or call any of the following persons: list of contacts.
VI. State and Federal Remedies for Employees
In addition to the above, if an individual believes the individual has been subjected to unlawful discrimination or harassment, the individual may file a formal complaint with one of the governmental agencies set forth below. Using the legislature’s complaint process does not prohibit an individual from filing a complaint with one of these agencies. Each of the agencies has a time period for filing a claim of the alleged unlawful incident: (EEOC: 300 days; MCCR: 6 months). U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - https://www.eeoc.gov/ Maryland Commission on Civil Rights - http://mccr.maryland.gov/Pages/Intake.aspx