Category A: Foundations & Basic Commitments
Sexual harassment, as defined by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151A, Section 25 and Chapter 151B, Section 3A, is unlawful and prohibited in the workplace. It is the goal of the Amherst-Pelham, Amherst and Pelham School Districts to promote a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment of employees occurring in the workplace, whether in the form of physical or verbal harassment and regardless of whether committed by administrative or non-administrative personnel, teachers, consultants, or community members, is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the school districts. Further, any retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment or retaliation against individuals for cooperating with an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated. To achieve the goal of providing a workplace free from sexual harassment, the conduct that is described in this procedure will not be tolerated and inappropriate conduct will be addressed according to the procedure below.
Chapter 151A, Section 25, states “the term ‘sexual harassment’ shall mean sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical conduct of a sexual nature when a) submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions; b) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or c) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.”
While it is not possible to list all those additional circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are examples of conduct which, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances, including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:
- Sexual advances—whether they involve physical touching or not;
- Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to an individual’s sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life; comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess;
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons;
- Leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments;
- Inquiries into one’s sexual experiences; and,
- Discussion of one’s sexual activities.
Because of the important nature of harassment claims, immediate and direct attention will be given to formal complaints. The following procedures are established for an employee or volunteer in the event s/he is subjected to sexual harassment.
Process For Filing Internal Complaints
Please contact the Director of Diversity and Equity, 413/362-1832, or the Superintendent, 413-362-1810, for information about filing a complaint or refer to the “Complaint Procedure for Allegations of Discrimination.” Workers who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment may also, or instead, report this to the following State and/or Federal agencies:
- Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination One Ashburton PlaceSixth Floor, Room 601Boston, MA 02108Telephone 617-565-3200Fax 617-565-3196TTY 617-565-3204
- Office for Civil RightsU.S. Department of EducationJ. W. McCormack Post Office and CourthousePost Office SquareBoston, MA 02109Telephone 617-223-9662Fax 617-223-9669TTY 617-223-9695TDD 617-223-4097
Where it is determined that such inappropriate conduct has occurred, the District will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose such corrective action as is necessary, including disciplinary action where appropriate. Employees found to have engaged in acts of sexual harassment will face one or more of the following consequences, depending upon the seriousness of the matter:
- verbal warning,
- written reprimand and warning,
- suspension without pay,
- dismissal, and/or
- referral to the police.
Only the Superintendent has the authority to initiate discipline of the perpetrator of sexual harassment by suspension or dismissal, and such actions must comply with contractual and legal procedures as well as the due process rights of all parties involved.
Retaliation in any form, including but not limited to reprisals, threats or intimidation, against any person who has filed a complaint relating to sexual harassment will be treated as serious offenses and will be grounds for disciplinary action, including possible dismissal, against the person found to be retaliating.