Policy 6121 – Sexual Harassment of District Personnel
The District is committed to creating and maintaining an environment which is free from harassment and discrimination. This policy addresses sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace. It is intended to inform covered individuals of: their right to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment and discrimination; what sexual harassment and discrimination look like; how they can prevent and report sexual harassment and discrimination; how they are protected from retaliation after taking action; and the general process for investigating a claim of sexual harassment and discrimination that falls under this policy. This policy is just one component of the District’s overall commitment to maintaining a harassment and discrimination-free educational and work environment.
Under New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on age, race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, status as a victim of domestic violence, or criminal history. These different identities impact an individual’s perception and understanding of the world. For example, an individual’s race, ability, or immigration status may impact their experience with gender discrimination in the workplace. While this policy is focused on sexual harassment and gender discrimination, the process for reporting and investigating discrimination based on other protected classes is generally the same. However, the exact process may vary depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to, who is involved. Other District policies and documents such as regulations, procedures, collective bargaining agreements, and the District’s Code of Conduct detail the specific process for reporting and investigating discrimination based on other protected identities.
Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination that subjects individuals to inferior conditions of employment due to their gender, gender identity, gender expression (perceived or actual), and/or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment is often viewed simply as a form of gender-based discrimination, but the District recognizes that discrimination can be related to or affected by other identities beyond gender.
Discrimination of any kind, including sexual harassment, is unlawful, a violation of District policy, and may subject the District to liability for the harm experienced by targets of discrimination. All individuals are required to work in a manner designed to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Harassers may also be individually subject to liability and supervisors who fail to report or act on harassment may be liable for aiding and abetting sexual harassment and discrimination. Employees at every level who engage in harassment or discrimination, including supervisory personnel who engage in harassment or discrimination or who allow such behavior to continue, will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary action by the District.
The District adopts this policy as part of its effort to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace. The District will promptly respond to reports of sexual harassment in the workplace, ensure that all investigations are conducted within a reasonably prompt time frame and under a predictable fair grievance process that provides due process protections, and impose disciplinary measures and implement remedies when warranted.
Inquiries about this policy may be directed to the District’s Civil Rights Compliance Officer(s) (CRCO(s)) and/or Title IX Coordinator(s).
Scope and Application
This policy applies to all instances of sexual harassment and gender discrimination perpetrated against a “covered individual” by anyone in the workplace, including a co-worker, supervisor, or third-party such as a non-employee, paid or unpaid intern, vendor, building security, visitor, volunteer, parent, or student. For purposes of this policy, a “covered individual” includes:
- Applicants for employment;
- Paid or unpaid interns; and
- Non-employees, which include anyone who is (or is employed by) a contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant, or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace. These non-employees include persons commonly referred to as independent contractors, gig workers, and temporary workers. Also included are non-employees providing equipment repair, cleaning services, or any other service through a contract with the District.
Other District policies and documents such as regulations, procedures, collective bargaining agreements, and the District’s Code of Conduct may address misconduct related to sexual harassment and may provide for additional, different, or more specific grievance procedures depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to, who is involved and where the alleged sexual harassment occurred. These documents must be read in conjunction with this policy.
The dismissal of a complaint under one policy or document does not preclude action under another related District policy or document.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination that is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender expression, gender identity, and the status of being transgender. Sexual harassment is not limited to sexual contact, touching, or expressions of a sexually suggestive nature. Sexual harassment includes all forms of gender discrimination including gender role stereotyping and treating individuals differently because of their gender.
Understanding gender diversity is essential to recognizing sexual harassment because discrimination based on sex stereotypes, gender expression, and perceived identity are all forms of sexual harassment. The gender spectrum is nuanced, but the three most common ways people identify are cisgender, transgender, and non-binary. A cisgender person is someone whose gender aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. Generally, this gender will align with the binary of male or female. A transgender person is someone whose gender is different than the sex they were assigned at birth. A non-binary person does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. They might identify as both, somewhere in between, or completely outside the gender binary. Some may identify as transgender, but not all do. Respecting an individual’s gender identity is a necessary first step in establishing a safe workplace.
Under NYSHRL, sexual harassment is unlawful when it subjects an individual to inferior terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Harassment does not need to be severe or pervasive to be illegal. It can be any harassing behavior that rises above petty slights or trivial inconveniences. Every instance of harassment is unique to those experiencing it, and there is no single boundary between petty slights and harassing behavior. However, NYSHRL specifies that whether harassing conduct is considered petty or trivial is to be viewed from the standpoint of a reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristics. Generally, any behavior in which a covered individual is treated worse because of their gender (perceived or actual), sexual orientation, or gender expression is considered a violation of District policy. The intent of the behavior, for example, making a joke, does not neutralize a harassment claim. Not intending to harass is not a defense. The impact of the behavior on a person is what counts.
Sexual harassment includes any unwelcome conduct which is either directed at an individual because of that individual’s gender identity or expression (perceived or actual), or is of a sexual nature when:
- The purpose or effect of this behavior unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. The impacted individual does not need to be the intended target of the sexual harassment;
- Employment depends implicitly or explicitly on accepting such unwelcome behavior; or
- Decisions regarding an individual’s employment are based on an individual’s acceptance to or rejection of the behavior. These decisions can include what shifts and how many hours an employee might work, project assignments, as well as salary and promotion decisions.
There are two main types of sexual harassment:
- Hostile work environment which includes, but is not limited to, 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, gender identity, or gender expression. Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory, or discriminatory statements which an employee finds offensive or objectionable, causes an employee discomfort or humiliation, or interferes with the employee’s job performance.
- Quid pro quo harassment which occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job benefits for sexual favors. This can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or any other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
Any covered individual who feels harassed is encouraged to report the behavior so that any violation of this policy can be corrected promptly. Any harassing conduct, even a single incident, can be discrimination and is covered by this policy.
Examples of Sexual Harassment
The following describes some actions that may constitute unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited. This list is just a sample of behaviors and should not be considered exhaustive. Any covered individual who believes they have experienced sexual harassment, even if it does not appear on this list, should feel encouraged to report it:
- Physical acts of a sexual nature, such as:
- Touching, pinching, patting, kissing, hugging, grabbing, brushing against another individual’s body, or poking another individual’s body; or
- Rape, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit these assaults, which may be considered criminal conduct outside the scope of this policy.
- Unwanted sexual comments, advances, or propositions, such as:
- Requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning the target’s job performance evaluation, a promotion, or other job benefits;
- Subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities; or
- Repeated requests for dates or romantic gestures, including gift-giving.
- Sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks or jokes, or questions and comments about a person’s sexuality, sexual experience, or romantic history which create a hostile work environment. This is not limited to interactions in person. Remarks made over virtual platforms and in messaging apps when employees are working remotely can create a similarly hostile work environment.
- Sex stereotyping, which occurs when someone’s conduct or personality traits are judged based on other people’s ideas or perceptions about how individuals of a particular sex should act or look:
- Remarks regarding an employee’s gender expression, such as wearing a garment typically associated with a different gender identity; or
- Asking employees to take on traditionally gendered roles, such as asking a woman to serve meeting refreshments when it is not part of, or appropriate to, her job duties.
- Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the workplace, such as:
- Displaying pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional material, reading materials, or other materials that are sexually demeaning or pornographic. This includes such sexual displays on workplace computers or cell phones and sharing such displays while in the workplace;
- This also extends to the virtual or remote workspace and can include having such materials visible in the background of one’s home during a virtual meeting.
- Hostile actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, such as:
- Interfering with, destroying, or damaging a person’s workstation, tools or equipment, or otherwise interfering with the individual’s ability to perform the job;
- Sabotaging an individual’s work;
- Bullying, yelling, or name-calling;
- Intentional misuse of an individual’s preferred pronouns; or
- Creating different expectations for individuals based on their perceived identities:
- Dress codes that place more emphasis on women’s attire;
- Leaving parents/caregivers out of meetings.
Who Can be a Target of Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex or gender. Harassment does not have to be between members of the opposite sex or gender. This policy applies to all instances of sexual harassment perpetrated against a “covered individual” by anyone in the workplace, including a co-worker, supervisor, or third-party such as a non-employee, paid or unpaid intern, vendor, building security, visitor, volunteer, parent, or student.
Sexual harassment does not happen in a vacuum and discrimination experienced by an individual can be impacted by biases and identities beyond an individual’s gender. For example:
- Placing different demands or expectations on black women employees than white women employees can be both racial and gender discrimination;
- An individual’s immigration status may lead to perceptions of vulnerability and increased concerns around illegal retaliation for reporting sexual harassment; or
- Past experiences as a survivor of domestic or sexual violence may lead an individual to feel re-traumatized by someone’s behaviors in the workplace.
Individuals bring personal history with them to the workplace that might impact how they interact with certain behavior. It is especially important for all employees to be aware of how words or actions might impact someone with a different experience than their own in the interest of creating a safe and equitable workplace.
Where Can Sexual Harassment Occur?
Unlawful sexual harassment is not limited to the physical workplace itself. Sexual harassment can occur on school property and at school functions which, for purposes of this policy, means a school-sponsored or school-authorized extracurricular event or activity regardless of where the event or activity takes place, including any event or activity that may take place virtually or in another state. It can occur while covered individuals are traveling for District business or at District or industry-sponsored events or parties. Calls, texts, emails, and social media usage by covered individuals can constitute unlawful workplace harassment, even if they occur away from school property, on personal devices, or during non-work hours. Accordingly, conduct or incidents of sexual harassment that create or foreseeably create a disruption within the District may be subject to this policy in certain circumstances.
Sexual harassment can occur when covered individuals are working remotely. Any behaviors outlined above that leave a covered individual feeling uncomfortable, humiliated, or unable to meet their job requirements constitute harassment even if the covered individual is working remotely when the harassment occurs. Harassment can happen on virtual meeting platforms, in messaging apps, and after working hours between personal cell phones.
Prohibition of Retaliatory Behavior (Commonly Known as “Whistle-Blower” Protection)
Retaliation is unlawful and is any action by an employer or supervisor that punishes an individual upon learning of a harassment claim, that seeks to discourage a covered individual from making a formal complaint or supporting a sexual harassment or discrimination claim, or that punishes those who have come forward. Adverse actions need not be job-related or occur in the workplace to constitute unlawful retaliation. For example, threats of physical violence outside of work hours or disparaging someone on social media would be covered as retaliation under this policy.
Examples of retaliation may include, but are not limited to:
- Demotion, termination, denying accommodations, reduced hours, or the assignment of less desirable shifts;
- Publicly releasing personnel files;
- Refusing to provide a reference or providing an unwarranted negative reference;
- Labeling an employee as “difficult” and excluding them from projects to avoid “drama”;
- Undermining an individual’s immigration status; or
- Reducing work responsibilities, passing over for a promotion, or moving an individual’s desk to a less desirable office location.
Retaliation is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. The NYSHRL protects any individual who has engaged in “protected activity.” Protected activity occurs when a person has:
- Made a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination, either internally or with any government agency;
- Testified or assisted in a proceeding involving sexual harassment or discrimination under the NYSHRL or any other anti-discrimination law;
- Opposed sexual harassment or discrimination by making a verbal or informal complaint, or by simply informing a supervisor, building principal, other administrator, or the CRCO of suspected harassment;
- Reported that a covered individual has been sexually harassed or discriminated against; or
- Encouraged a covered individual to report harassment.
The District prohibits all retaliation. Any individual that reports an incident of sexual harassment or discrimination, provides information, or otherwise assists in any investigation of a sexual harassment or discrimination complaint is protected from retaliation. No one should fear reporting sexual harassment or discrimination if they believe it has occurred. Even if the alleged harassment does not turn out to rise to the level of a violation of law, the individual is protected from retaliation if the person had a good faith belief that the practices were unlawful. However, the retaliation provision is not intended to protect persons making intentionally false charges of sexual harassment or discrimination.
Any District employee who retaliates against anyone involved in a sexual harassment or discrimination investigation will face disciplinary action, up to and including termination. All covered individuals who believe they have been subject to retaliation should inform a supervisor, building principal, other administrator, or the CRCO.
All employees and covered individuals who believe they have been a target of retaliation may also seek relief from government agencies, as explained in this policy.
Reporting Allegations of Sexual Harassment
Anyone who experiences, witnesses, or becomes aware of potential instances of sexual harassment is encouraged to report the behavior to a supervisor, building principal, other administrator, or the CRCO. Covered individuals should not feel discouraged from reporting harassment because they do not believe it is bad enough or conversely because they do not want to see someone fired over less severe behavior. Just as harassment can happen in different degrees, potential discipline for engaging in sexual harassment will depend on the degree of harassment and could include education counseling, suspension, or termination.
Reports of sexual harassment may be made verbally or in writing. A written complaint form is posted on the District’s website if a covered individual would like to use it, but the complaint form is not required. Individuals who are reporting sexual harassment on behalf of another individual may use the complaint form and note that it is being submitted on another individual’s behalf. A verbal or otherwise written complaint (such as an email) on behalf of oneself or another individual is also acceptable.
Reports may be made to a CRCO in person, by using the contact information for a CRCO, or by any other means that results in a CRCO receiving the person’s verbal or written report. This report may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by using the telephone number or email address, or by mail to the office address, listed for a CRCO.
Reports of sexual harassment may also be made to any other District employee including a supervisor or building principal. All reports of discrimination and/or harassment must be immediately forwarded to the CRCO. Reports may also be forwarded to other District employees depending on the allegations.
District employees must comply with reporting requirements in any other applicable District policy or document.
Covered individuals who believe they have been a target of sexual harassment may at any time seek assistance in additional available forums, as explained in this policy.
Everyone must work toward preventing sexual harassment, but leadership matters. Supervisors, building principals, other administrators, and the CRCOs have a special responsibility to make sure employees feel safe at work and that workplaces are free from harassment and discrimination. All supervisors, building principals, and other administrators who receive a complaint or information about suspected sexual harassment, observe what may be sexually harassing or discriminatory behavior, or for any reason suspect that sexual harassment or discrimination is occurring, are required to report the suspected sexual harassment to the CRCO. If the CRCO is unavailable, including due to a conflict of interest or other disqualifying reason, the report will be directed to another CRCO, if the District has designated another individual to serve in that capacity. If the District has not designated another CRCO, the Superintendent will ensure that another person with the appropriate training and qualifications is appointed to act as the CRCO.
Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators should not be passive and wait for a covered individual to make a claim of harassment. If they observe such behavior, they must act.
Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators can be disciplined if they engage in sexually harassing or discriminatory behavior themselves. Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators, can also be disciplined for failing to report suspected sexual harassment or allowing sexual harassment to continue after they know about it.
While supervisors, building principals, and other administrators have a responsibility to report harassment and discrimination, they must be mindful of the impact that harassment and a subsequent investigation has on victims. Being identified as a possible victim of harassment and questioned about harassment and discrimination can be intimidating, uncomfortable and re-traumatizing for individuals. Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators must accommodate the needs of individuals who have experienced harassment to ensure the workplace is safe, supportive, and free from retaliation for them during and after any investigation.
Any individual witnessing harassment as a bystander is encouraged to report it. A supervisor, building principal, or other administrator that is a bystander to harassment is required to report it. There are five standard methods of bystander intervention that can be used when anyone witnesses harassment or discrimination and wants to help.
- A bystander can interrupt the harassment by engaging with the individual being harassed and distracting them from the harassing behavior;
- A bystander who feels unsafe interrupting on their own can ask a third-party to help intervene in the harassment;
- A bystander can record or take notes on the harassment incident to benefit a future investigation;
- A bystander might check in with the person who has been harassed after the incident, see how they are feeling and let them know the behavior was not ok; and
- If a bystander feels safe, they can confront the harassers and name the behavior as inappropriate. When confronting harassment, physically assaulting an individual is never an appropriate response.
Though not exhaustive, and dependent on the circumstances, the guidelines above can serve as a brief guide of how to react when witnessing harassment in the workplace.
Grievance Process for Complaints of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
All complaints or information about sexual harassment will be investigated, whether that information was reported in verbal or written form. An investigation of any complaint, information, or knowledge of suspected sexual harassment will be prompt, thorough, equitable, and started and completed as soon as possible. Investigations will be kept confidential to the extent possible. Disclosure may, however, be necessary to complete a thorough investigation of the charges and/or notify law enforcement officials. All individuals involved, including those making a harassment claim, witnesses, and alleged harassers deserve a fair and impartial investigation.
The CRCO will generally oversee the District’s investigation of all complaints of discrimination and/or harassment. In the event an anonymous complaint is filed, the District will respond to the extent possible.
District employees may be required to cooperate as needed in an investigation of suspected sexual harassment. The District recognizes that participating in a harassment investigation can be uncomfortable and has the potential to retraumatize a covered individual. Individuals receiving claims and leading investigations will handle complaints and questions with sensitivity toward participants.
While the process may vary from case to case, investigations will be done in accordance with the following steps. Upon receipt of a complaint, the CRCO:
- Will conduct a prompt review of the allegations, assess the appropriate scope of the investigation, and take any interim actions (for example, instructing the individual(s) about whom the complaint was made to refrain from communications with the individual(s) who reported the harassment), as appropriate.
If the CRCO is unavailable, including due to a conflict of interest or other disqualifying reason, the report will be directed to another CRCO, if the District has designated another individual to serve in that capacity. If the District has not designated another CRCO, the Superintendent will ensure that another person with the appropriate training and qualifications is appointed to act as the CRCO.
- Will investigate all complaints of sexual harassment regardless of how those complaints are reported and treat all complaints with equal priority. For verbal complaints, the individual will be encouraged to complete, in writing, the complaint form. If the individual reporting prefers not to fill out the complaint form, a complaint form or equivalent documentation based on the verbal reporting will be prepared. The individual reporting the harassment will be provided a copy of the completed complaint form.
- Will take steps to obtain, review, and preserve documents sufficient to assess the allegations, including documents, emails, or phone records that may be relevant to the investigation. The CRCO will consider and implement appropriate document request, review, and preservation measures, including for electronic communications.
- Will seek to interview all parties involved, including any relevant witnesses. If a student is involved, the District will follow all applicable District policies and procedures regarding questioning students.
- Will create written documentation of the investigation (such as a letter, memo, or email), which contains the following:
- A list of all documents reviewed, along with a detailed summary of relevant documents;
- A list of names of those interviewed, along with a detailed summary of their statements;
- A timeline of events;
- A summary of any prior relevant incidents disclosed in the investigation, reported or unreported; and
- The basis for the decision and final resolution of the complaint, together with any corrective action(s).
- Will keep the written documentation and associated documents in a secure and confidential location.
- Will promptly notify the individual(s) who reported the harassment and the individual(s) about whom the complaint was made that the investigation has been completed and implement any corrective actions identified in the written document. Any corrective action taken will be in accordance with applicable law and regulation, as well as any applicable District policy, regulation, procedure, collective bargaining agreement, third-party contract, or other document such as the District’s Code of Conduct.
- Will inform the individual(s) who reported the harassment of the right to file a complaint or charge externally as outlined in this policy.
Other District policies and documents address sexual harassment. All complaints will be handled in accordance with the applicable District policies and/or documents.
The determination as to which District policies and/or documents are applicable is fact specific, and the CRCO may work with other District staff such as the District’s Title IX Coordinator(s) to determine which District policies and/or documents are applicable to the specific facts of the complaint.
The District will provide a sexual harassment prevention training program to all employees on an annual basis. The training will be interactive and will include:
- An explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Labor in consultation with the Division of Human Rights;
- Examples of conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
- Information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment;
- Information concerning employees’ rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating complaints; and
- Information addressing conduct by supervisors and any additional responsibilities for such supervisors.
The District will provide this policy to all employees in-person or digitally through email upon hiring and will be posted prominently in all work locations. In addition to sending the policy through email, this policy will also be available on the District’s website.
At the time of hiring and at every annual sexual harassment prevention training program, the District will provide each employee a notice containing this policy and the information presented at the District’s sexual harassment prevention training program.
This notice will be provided in English and in the language identified by the employee as their primary language, provided that the New York State Department of Labor Commissioner has published a template of the model materials in that language.
The notice will be delivered in writing, either in print or digitally. The notice will either link to or include, as an attachment or printed copy, the policy and training materials.
Legal Protections and External Remedies
Sexual harassment is not only prohibited by the District, but it is also prohibited by state, federal, and, where applicable, local law.
The District’s internal process outlined in the policy above is one way for covered individuals to report sexual harassment. Covered individuals may also choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental entities. While a private attorney is not required to file a complaint with a governmental agency, covered individuals may also seek the legal advice of an attorney.
In addition to those outlined below, individuals may have other legal protections.
New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR)
The NYSHRL, NY Executive Law, Art. 15, Section 290 et seq., applies to all employers in New York State and protects covered individuals, regardless of immigration status. A complaint alleging violation of the NYSHRL may be filed either with the NYSDHR or in New York State Supreme Court.
Complaints of sexual harassment filed with NYSDHR may be submitted any time within three years of the harassment. If an individual does not file a complaint with NYSDHR, they can bring a lawsuit directly in state court under the NYSHRL, within three years of the alleged sexual harassment. An individual may not file with NYSDHR if they have already filed a NYSHRL complaint in state court.
Complaining internally to the District does not extend the time to file with NYSDHR or in court. The three years are counted from the date of the most recent incident of harassment.
Individuals do not need an attorney to file a complaint with NYSDHR, and there is no cost to file with NYSDHR.
NYSDHR will investigate the complaint and determine whether there is probable cause to believe that sexual harassment has occurred. Probable cause cases receive a public hearing before an administrative law judge. If sexual harassment is found at the hearing, NYSDHR has the power to award relief. Relief varies, but it may include requiring the employer to take action to stop the harassment, or repair the damage caused by the harassment, including paying of monetary damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and civil fines.
NYSDHR’s main office contact information is: NYS Division of Human Rights, One Fordham Plaza, Fourth Floor, Bronx, New York 10458. Individuals may call (718) 741-8400 or visit: www.dhr.ny.gov.
Go to dhr.ny.gov/complaint for more information about filing a complaint with NYSDHR. The website has a digital complaint process that can be completed on a computer or mobile device from start to finish. The website has a complaint form that can be downloaded, filled out, and mailed to NYSDHR. The website also contains contact information for NYSDHR’s regional offices across New York State.
Call the NYSDHR sexual harassment hotline at 1-800-HARASS-3 (1-800-427-2773) for more information about filing a sexual harassment complaint. This hotline can also provide a referral to a volunteer attorney experienced in sexual harassment matters who can provide limited free assistance and counsel over the phone.
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act, 42 USC Section 2000e et seq. An individual can file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 calendar days from the most recent incident of harassment. There is no cost to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the complaint and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred. If the EEOC determines that the law may have been violated, the EEOC will try to reach a voluntary settlement with the employer. If the EEOC cannot reach a settlement, the EEOC (or the Department of Justice in certain cases) will decide whether to file a lawsuit. The EEOC will issue a Notice of Right to Sue permitting workers to file a lawsuit in federal court if the EEOC closes the charge, is unable to determine if federal employment discrimination laws may have been violated, or believes that unlawful discrimination occurred but does not file a lawsuit.
Individuals may obtain relief in mediation, settlement, or conciliation. In addition, federal courts may award remedies if discrimination is found to have occurred. In general, private employers must have at least 15 employees to come within the jurisdiction of the EEOC.
An individual alleging discrimination at work can file a “Charge of Discrimination.” The EEOC has district, area, and field offices where complaints can be filed. Contact the EEOC by calling 1-800-669-4000 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820), visiting their website at www.eeoc.gov, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To file a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/filing-charge-discrimination.
If an individual filed an administrative complaint with the NYSDHR, then NYSDHR will automatically file the complaint with the EEOC to preserve the right to proceed in federal court.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.
For more information about how to file a complaint, contact OCR at 800-421-3481 (TDD 800-877-8339) or visit: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html. The website contains information about filing the complaint online, by mail, or by email.
Many localities enforce laws protecting individuals from sexual harassment and discrimination. An individual should contact the county, city, or town in which they live to find out if a law exists.
Contact the Local Police Department
If the harassment involves unwanted physical touching, coerced physical confinement, or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Those wishing to pursue criminal charges are encouraged to contact their local police department.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC Section 2000e et seq.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 USC Section 1681 et seq.
29 CFR Section 1604.11(a)
34 CFR Subtitle B, Chapter I
Civil Service Law Section 75-b
New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law Section 290 et seq.
Labor Law Sections 201-g and 740
NOTE: Refer also to Policies
#3420 — Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the District
#3421 — Title IX and Sex Discrimination
#6122 — Employee Grievances
#7551 — Sexual Harassment of Students