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Policy to Prevent Sexual Harassment
It is the policy of the clerk of court to prevent and prohibit sexual harassment of any employee by another employee, by supervisors, by customers, or by vendors. The clerk’s office WILL NOT TOLERATE SEXUAL HARASSMENT. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical or inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when the conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment or the holding of office, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment and shall not be tolerated. Violations of this policy may result in harsh discipline including termination of employment.
La. R.S. 42:343 requires that all public servants receive a minimum of one hour of education and training each year on preventing sexual harassment and that each agency post on its web site its policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment. Below are the policies and procedures of the Plaquemines Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.
Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome physical contact, the use of sexually explicit language or gestures, and any uninvited or unwanted sexual advances (either physical or verbal) which create an overall offensive environment. Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to, the use of vulgar language, the presence of sexually explicit photographs or other materials, the telling of sexual stories or jokes, and the uninvited or unwelcome touching of another person. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex of the alleged offender.
Reporting, Investigating, and Resolution of Complaints
Any employee of the clerk of court, who believes that he or she is a victim of sexual harassment, should report the matter to his or her immediate supervisor, or if circumstances do not permit, then to any supervisor. The supervisor to whom the report is made shall immediately have the reporting person reduce the matter to writing, which writing should include the name, department, and position of the person allegedly committing the harassment, a description of the incident, including the date and location of the incident, and the names of any potential witnesses. The supervisor to whom the report is made shall also immediately document in writing that a complaint has been received, and notify the director of personnel of the complaint and provide the employee’s written complaint to the director of personnel.
If circumstances exist which do not permit the person who believes he or she is a victim of sexual harassment to report the matter to an immediate supervisor or other supervisor, then alternatively, that person should immediately report the matter to the director of personnel. If circumstances do not permit the person who believes he or she is a victim of sexual harassment to report the matter to an immediate supervisor, other supervisor, or the director of personnel, then that person should immediately report the matter to the chief deputy.
Complaints should be submitted immediately after the incident has occurred. The director of personnel shall investigate the matter in a thorough and prompt manner, and shall take appropriate action to address the complaint. Complaints and investigations of complaints will be treated to the extent possible in a confidential manner, with information disclosed only on a need-to-know basis. The investigative process will be conducted expeditiously and professionally. The investigation should involve only those employees or others who have actual knowledge of the circumstances, including the person making the complaint, the person accused, and witnesses or others possessing relevant information. Employees who are interviewed regarding the complaint will be instructed that the complaint and investigation are to remain confidential.
The complaint, the investigation of the compliant, and any resulting disciplinary action shall be documented. Employees who are found to have violated this policy are subject to appropriate discipline. If an investigation results in a finding that this policy has been violated, the resulting discipline could include a minimum of a written reprimand, up to the maximum of the termination of employment.
Prohibition Against Retaliation
This policy prohibits any retaliation against any individual for making a complaint, or for testifying or participating in any way in an investigation or other proceeding involving a complaint of sexual harassment.
Federal & State Laws
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates federal and state law. In addition to the policy and procedures provided in the Clerk of Court’s Policy to Prevent Sexual Harassment, there are federal and state laws related to sexual harassment in the workplace. Such laws can be found under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, and under Louisiana Revised Statutes Section 51:2231, et seq. (in effect), and La. R.S. 42:341, et seq. (effective 01/01/2019).
Employees may obtain additional information regarding procedures and deadlines for making claims associated with sexual harassment from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights (LCHR).