WHEREAS, The goal of this policy is to ensure that all complaints of sexual harassment will be promptly, thoroughly, and respectfully handled. By having reporting and investigative procedures in place, it is hoped that House members and employees will be encouraged to report what they believe to be sexual harassment; and
WHEREAS, Complaints, investigations, and resolutions will be handled as discreetly as possible, with information being shared only with those who have a need to know and as may be required to be in compliance with the law. Retaliation will not be tolerated against any person who complains, reports, or attests to sexual harassment, or participates in an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint; and
WHEREAS, As a general rule, remedies will be assessed proportionately to the seriousness of the offense. When a determination is made that sexual harassment has occurred, appropriate disciplinary action will follow. For employees, this may include counseling, oral or written warning, transfer to another department, suspension with or without pay, or termination; for members, this may include any sanction which may be imposed either by House Rules, or by action of the House of Representatives; and
WHEREAS, All Rhode Island House members and employees have a responsibility to contribute to a respectful work environment. The House of Representatives encourages, expects, and appreciates cooperation in implementing this policy; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations does hereby declare the following to be the Sexual Harassment Policy of the Rhode Island House of Representatives:
This policy applies to all members and employees of the Rhode Island House of Representatives acting in the scope of their official or employment capacity. As used in this policy, the following definitions shall apply:
"Members": The term "members" means all Representatives of the House.
"Employees": The term "employees" means any permanent or temporary, full-time or part-time employee of the General Assembly whose employment involves the performance of duties or services for the Rhode Island House of Representatives. This includes, but is not limited to, all House staff members, all interns and pages.
"Sexual Harassment", as defined by this policy, is a form of sexual discrimination that involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
(a) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's job, pay, or career; or
(b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting this person; or
(c) such conduct interferes with an individual's performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Examples of verbal or physical conduct which may, depending on the circumstances, constitute sexual harassment, include but are not limited to:Verbal
* unwelcome sexual comments, compliments, innuendos, or questions or suggestions about one's clothing, body or sexual activity;
* turning work discussions into sexual topics, such as sexual practices or preferences, or telling sexual jokes or stories;
* requesting or demanding sexual favors or suggesting that there is any connection between sexual behavior and any term or condition of employment, whether that connection be positive or negative;
* use of obscene or sexual words or phrases or the use of unwelcome words such as "sweetheart", "stud", "honey", "babe" or "hunk";Non-Verbal
* displaying sexually explicit pictures or objects in the work area;
* giving personal gifts of a sexual nature;
* making sexually suggestive facial expressions or gestures;
* kissing, touching, patting, pinching or brushing against a person's body;
* sexual contact, intercourse or assault.
Every member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and employees, as defined in this policy, is responsible for contributing to a respectful work place. In order to enforce this policy, the House Leadership shall:
* distribute a copy of its sexual harassment policy and procedures to all House members and employees;
* inform all staff and representatives about the House's sexual harassment policy and procedures;
* train supervisors in their roles and responsibilities in dealing with sexual harassment;
* promote fair and efficient handling of all complaints;
* regularly review its sexual harassment policy and procedures.
Supervisors, in upholding their responsibility to prevent sexual harassment, shall:
* promote a departmental working environment free from sexual harassment and deal with sexual harassment when it is observed or reported;
* respect the privacy as much as possible of all parties involved in a sexual harassment concern or complaint;
* promptly report sexual harassment or complaints of sexual harassment to the appropriate investigator designated by the Speaker, or, in the case of employees, if the complainant does not have the same supervisor as the alleged offender, promptly report the incident to the proper supervisor;
* participate in training on sexual harassment provided by the House Leadership;
Members and employees, in upholding their responsibility to prevent sexual harassment, shall:
* promptly report concerns or complaints to the person designated by this policy to receive notification of such complaints;
* participate in training on sexual harassment provided by the House Leadership;
* cooperate with requests for information and data that will help a supervisor carry out his or her responsibilities under these procedures;
* be sensitive to the issue of sexual harassment; attempt in general to avoid behaving in a sexually offensive manner; and discourage others from behaving in a sexually offensive manner.
Any employee or House member who has experienced sexual harassment or sexually offensive behavior, should feel free to complain to the offending person about his/her behavior, to tell him/her what comment, joke or action disturbed the member/employee and that the member/employee wants the behavior to stop. The House member or employee has the right to complain in person or in writing to the offender, but the member/employee need not do so if a direct complaint would make him/her uncomfortable.Employees Report to Supervisor
(A) If an employee, as defined in this policy, does not feel comfortable in voicing a complaint directly, or if he/she has already complained to the offender and the offensive behavior has not stopped, or if the employee believes the complaint may result or has resulted in retaliation towards him/her, the employee should report the complaint of sexual harassment or retaliation to his/her supervisor. If the employee is a page or intern, that employee shall report the complaint of sexual harassment or retaliation to the Speaker, or to a person designated by the Speaker to receive such complaints.
If the supervisor is the alleged offender, then the employee should report his/her complaint to the Speaker or his designee.
(B) Whenever any person is notified, pursuant to this policy, of a complaint of sexual harassment, that person shall, in addition to any notification requirements set forth in this policy, immediately inform the Speaker of the complaint.
If a representative does not wish to confront the offender or has tried unsuccessfully to confront the offender, the representative should report the complaint of sexual harassment, or retaliation, to the Speaker or person designated by the Speaker to receive such complaints, who shall immediately inform the Speaker of the complaint.B. Investigation of the Complaint
Upon receiving a complaint of sexual harassment, the supervisor, or a person designated by the Speaker to receive such complaints, after immediately informing the Speaker of the complaint, shall forward the complaint to an appropriate investigator selected by the Speaker. There shall be six (6) investigators selected by the Speaker as follows:
* 2 investigators who are members of the majority party;
* 2 investigators who are members of the minority party;
* 2 investigators who are members of the Speaker's staff.
Once selected, the names of said investigators shall be compiled and distributed to all House members and staff.
If the alleged offender is a representative, then upon receiving a complaint of sexual harassment, the supervisor, or person designated by the Speaker to receive such complaints shall, after immediately informing the Speaker of the complaint, forward the complaint to an investigator who is a representative from the same party as the alleged offender.
If the alleged offender is an employee, then upon receiving a complaint of sexual harassment, the supervisor or person designated by the Speaker to receive such complaints shall, after immediately informing the Speaker of the complaint, forward the complaint to an investigator who is a member of the Speaker's staff.
If the alleged offender is an intern or page, then upon receiving a complaint of sexual harassment, the supervisor or person designated by the Speaker to receive such complaints shall, after immediately informing the Speaker of the complaint, forward the complaint to the investigator who is a member of the Speaker's staff.
As part of the investigative process, the complainant may be asked any or all of the following questions, including but not limited to:
* Who was involved in the sexually offensive behavior?
* What was said or done?
* How did the conduct affect the complainant?
* What is the complainant's opinion as to how the matter should be resolved?
In addition, members of the House and/or employees with information about the sexually offensive behavior may be contacted and are expected to cooperate with any investigation. All complaints will be investigated promptly, thoroughly, and fairly. Every aspect of complaints, including investigations and resolutions, will be handled as discreetly as possible, with information being shared only by those who have a need to know and/or those who are required to know in order to comply with the law or this policy.C. Resolution of The Complaint
After an investigator selected by the Speaker has thoroughly investigated the complaint, he/she will advise the alleged offender of the complaint and give him/her an opportunity to provide information about what happened and how the complaint should be resolved. The investigator and the supervisor, or person who received the complaint, will then discuss the proposed resolution of the matter. Once the investigator and the supervisor (or person who received the complaint) have agreed on an appropriate resolution, the supervisor (or person who received the complaint) will as soon as practicable report the intended resolution to the Speaker who will affirm, deny, modify or amend the resolution as needed. No resolution will be carried out or otherwise put into effect before the Speaker has read and affirmed the same. Immediately upon receiving the Speaker's affirmation, the supervisor who received the complaint will notify both the alleged offender and the complainant of the resolution as affirmed or modified by the Speaker. Resolution of a complaint against an employee may include, but is not limited to, an apology, a direction to stop the offensive behavior, counseling or training, an oral or written warning, transfer to another department, suspension with or without pay, or termination. Resolution of a complaint against a House member may include any sanction which may be imposed either by House Rules, or by action of the House of Representatives. The privacy of all parties involved in any complaint of sexual harassment will be respected at all times. Any person involved in an investigation of a complaint of sexual harassment is forbidden to discuss information concerning the complaint with anyone other than the Speaker, the designated investigator and/or supervisor and/or any person who must be informed of the complaint in order to implement the resolution of said matter.D. Recurring Sexually Offensive Behavior
If the sexually offensive behavior does not stop or recurs after a House member or employee has made a complaint, the complainant should immediately bring this problem to the attention of the person designated by this policy to receive such complaints who will in turn follow the same procedures set forth above, and if necessary after adequate consultation with the investigator, a more stringent resolution of the matter may be determined.E. Retaliation
Retaliation is any adverse action relating to an employee's job status or a House member's representative status taken against him or her because he/she has complained of or reported an incident of sexual harassment, or has participated in any investigation, or given information concerning an incident of sexual harassment. This includes, but is not limited to, denial of a promotion, a demotion, or conduct by anyone in the workplace that could reasonably be expected to have an adverse impact on the employee's job performance or the member's performance as a representative.
Retaliation may take the form of verbal or non-verbal conduct, or greater demands being placed on the complaining employee than on non-complaining co-workers.
Retaliation against any House member or employee who has complained of or reported an incident of sexual harassment, investigated or participated in the investigation of a complaint, is strictly forbidden and is a very serious violation of the Sexual Harassment Policy of The House of Representatives. Retaliation will not be tolerated, whether verbal, non-verbal or physical. Complaints of retaliation will be vigorously pursued to the same extent as complaints of sexual harassment.F. False Complaints
Complaints that are found to be intentionally dishonest or malicious will not be tolerated, and any person making a false complaint is subject to disciplinary action.G. Legal Remedy For Sexual Harassment
In addition to, or instead of, following the above informal procedure(s) for making an alleged complaint of sexual harassment, the complainant has a right to file a discrimination claim with the Rhode Island Human Rights Commission or to consult with an attorney.