In accordance with Act 655 (2018 Regular Session), LABENFA gives notice that complaints regarding board actions or procedures may be submitted to one or more of the following organizations:
LABENFA, 5647 Superior Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70816-6049, Phone: (225) 295-8571; email@example.com
Committee on House & Governmental Affairs, Louisiana House of Representatives, State Capitol Building, P.O., Box 44486, Baton Rouge, LA 70804, 225-342-2403; firstname.lastname@example.org
Committee on Senate & Governmental Affairs, Louisiana Senate, P.O. Box 94183, Baton Rouge, LA 70804, 225-342-9845; email@example.com
Sexual Harassment Policy
Employees of LABENFA and the State of Louisiana have an expectation and right to be treated with respect and dignity and to work in a professional environment, which is free of harassment and discrimination. Harassment and discrimination, regardless of nature or degree, undermine the integrity of the employment relationship, debilitate morale, compromise equal employment opportunities, and significantly interfere with the mission of state government.
LABENFA strives to maintain a workplace that fosters mutual respect and promotes productive working relationships. Consequently, LABENFA prohibits and does not tolerate sexual harassment or any behavior of a sexual nature that intimidates, exploits, insults, demeans, disrespects, or embarrasses any employee or other individual in the workplace.
Prevention and elimination of sexually inappropriate behavior requires the personal involvement and commitment of every employee. The Executive Director or the Board shall be notified immediately of any such occurrence so the appropriate corrective action can be implemented. LABENFA seeks to reinforce its unyielding intolerance of sexually inappropriate behavior and to encourage employees who experience, observe or are informed of such behavior to promptly initiate the reporting process set forth in this policy. Employees can be assured that LABENFA will objectively and thoroughly investigate reports, implement preventive measures to protect against recurrence, impose corrective action to address violations, and protect complainants and individuals involved in the investigative process from any form of harassment, reprisal, or retaliation.
This policy specifically addresses sexual harassment and behavior of a sexual nature in the workplace, which are collectively referred to as “sexually inappropriate behavior”.
This policy is meant to do all of the following:
- Unequivocally state intolerance for sexually inappropriate behavior.
- Identify the broad scope of such prohibited behavior.
- Establish an effective and uniform reporting process.
- Establish an effective, uniform investigative process
- Trigger prompt action to protect against recurrence of the prohibited behavior.
- Ensure resolution that imposes appropriate corrective action.
- Protect complainants and individuals involved in the investigative process from harassment, reprisal, or retaliation
- Respect confidentiality and the privacy rights of employees.
This policy establishes a procedure to administratively report address complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior. It is not in any way intended to replace or supersede the statutory or regulatory rights regarding sexual harassment available to employees under federal and state law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. §2000e et seq.) and the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law (La. R.S. 23:301 et seq.). Specific timelines and requisites of law apply to filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights (LCHR).
This policy applies to and is equally applicable to all LABENFA employees regardless of position, status, or authority.
This policy also applies to non-employees, including visitors and individuals who transact business with LABENFA such as vendors, maintenance personnel, clients, contractors, and consultants. These non-employees are prohibited from engaging in the behavior prohibited by this policy and are also protected from experiencing such behavior by LABENFA employees.
This policy applies not only to the customary workplace and work locations where LABENFA employees may be assigned but also prohibits such behavior while traveling to a work location, at conferences, workshops, trainings, business trips, and business-related social events. Additionally, the behavior prohibited by this policy applies to off-duty, off premises behavior, which has an impact upon and relation back to the working relationship.
Exceptions or deviations from the provisions of this policy require the express approval of the Commissioner of Administration.
IV. PROHIBITED CONDUCT
Sexually inappropriate behavior takes many forms. It can be explicit and overt, such as a demand for sexual favors, or subtle and implied, such as leering and innuendo. It can be intended or unintended, with the determination of inappropriateness evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person and without regard for the purpose or motive of the accused. It can involve behavior by a person of either gender towards a person of the same or opposite gender. It can involve conduct by a supervisor or manager towards a subordinate employee or conduct by one employee towards another employee of equal, lesser, or greater rank, status, or authority. It can involve words or actions by a person external to LABENFA such as a visitor, vendor, maintenance personnel, client, contractor, or consultant. An employee can be affected merely as an observer of sexually inappropriate behavior directed towards another.
Sexual harassment, a form of prohibited discrimination, is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as unsolicited and unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature wherein:
- Submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions (hiring, firing, advancement, performance evaluations, wages, duty assignments, shifts, training opportunities, or other such conditions of employment or career development).
- Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
However, LABENFA’s focus is upon a broader and more general prohibition against sexually inappropriate behavior. LABENFA rightfully recognizes the inappropriateness of even occasional and non-sensational words or actions of a sexual nature. While not satisfying the legal standard to constitute sexual harassment, such behavior can be offensive and negatively impact the work environment. For this reason, LABENFA prohibits all sexually inappropriate behavior, regardless of severity, pervasiveness, or identifiable impact.
For illustrative purposes only, sexually inappropriate behavior, even on an occasional basis, includes but is not limited to any of the following:
- Verbal: Unwelcomed sexual flirtations, advances, propositions, or demands; unwelcomed sexual remarks, teasing, jokes, pranks, innuendo, insults, or inquiries; sexually insensitive or derogatory comments; unwelcomed repeated requests for dates or social engagement; inappropriate comments regarding a person’s physical attributes; comments regarding sexual activities, exploits, prowess, or accomplishments; use of vulgar, crude or sexually offensive language; sexually insulting noises, catcalls, or whistling; stereotypical comments; repeatedly referring to an individual as “honey”, “babe”, “sugar”, etc.
- Non-Verbal: Gestures of a sexual nature; lustful looks, staring and leering; displaying sexually revealing or suggestive pictures, cartoons, caricatures, drawings, photographs, magazines, books, graffiti, or objects; transmitting sexually oriented emails, texts, letters, writings, communications, and images.
- Physical: Unwelcomed physical contact including kissing, touching, embracing, hugging, massaging, rubbing, fondling, groping, tickling, pinching, and patting; invading another’s space by leaning over, purposefully cornering, or blocking passage; sexual assault, battery, and rape.
- Work Environment: Use of a state-owned or state-leased computer or other information technology to access the internet and/or online sites containing harmful, explicit, pornographic, or sexually harassing material; Exploiting or otherwise circumventing information technology designed to block access or exposure to any harmful, explicit, pornographic, or sexually harassing material; Any activity reasonably believed to create a hostile work environment as prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq; Any activity or material reasonably believed to violate Act 669 of the 2018 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature or La. R.S. 39:249.
LABENFA recognizes that an employee experiencing sexually inappropriate behavior may be reluctant to file a complaint. However, any inquiries and questions regarding this policy will be maintained in strict confidence. In some instances, follow-up inquiries or initiation of the investigative process may be necessary even when the employee desires to maintain anonymity, requests that no action be taken, or insists that a formal complaint not be lodged. In general, informal complaints or requests to delay investigation unless or until a future occurrence cannot be honored and will be treated the same as a formal complaint, thus triggering the investigative process.
LABENFA recognizes that implementation of a policy prohibiting sexually inappropriate workplace behavior standing alone is insufficient to prevent and address such behavior. To support this policy and create a culture wherein employees willingly report concerns and lodge complaints, LABENFA requires, at a minimum, the following:
- Upon hiring, all new employees will be provided a copy and instructed to carefully review this policy. Within thirty (30) days of the hiring date, all new employees are required to meet with the Executive Director or his designee to discuss any concerns or uncertainties regarding their responsibilities pursuant to this policy.
- Upon hiring, all new employees shall complete the Employee Acknowledgment and Management Certification Form. The executed form shall be kept in the employee’s personnel file.
- Within thirty (30) days of the hiring date, all new employees are required to complete the sexual harassment training mandated for state employees. All employees, on an annual basis thereafter, are required to complete the sexual harassment training mandated for state employees. Documentation of such completion shall be kept in the employee’s personnel file.
Early reporting of sexually inappropriate behavior enhances the credibility of the complainant and facilitates the investigative process. Prompt initiation of the investigation enhances the ability to identify witnesses and preserve evidence and protects against faltering memories occasioned by the passage of time. For these reasons, employees are
encouraged to report such behavior as soon as possible and discouraged from waiting to cumulate offenses or the recurrence “one more time” of the offensive behavior.
LABENFA does not require a fixed reporting time or deadline – immediate reporting is ideal, and sooner is always better than later. The initial report need only convey the occurrence of words or actions that are offensive and need not provide details. This report can be verbal (in person or via telephone) or in writing (letter, memo, email, text) and need not utilize a specific form. Most importantly, LABENFA does not require a rigid reporting protocol.
The report can be made to the employee’s direct supervisor. However, if the complaint involves the supervisor or, regardless of reason, the employee prefers to not involve that supervisor, the report can be made to any supervisor. Supervisory personnel receiving a report of sexually inappropriate behavior are required to immediately inform the Executive Director and/or the Board.
Anonymous complaints are discouraged; however, if an anonymous complaint is submitted, it should contain as much detail as possible including the names of the accused and all witnesses, the locations, dates, times, and description of all behaviors experienced, and any previous reports of similar behavior to management. Without this level of detail, the ability to conduct a thorough investigation may be impeded.
An employee experiencing unwelcomed behavior may choose to tell the offender to cease the behavior. Doing so may be sufficient to prevent recurrence. However, if the behavior continues, the concern should be reported promptly.
LABENFA recognizes that confronting an offender in this fashion can be discomforting, especially in those situations in which the offender is within the employee’s supervisory chain of command. Therefore, LABENFA does not require employees to do so and certainly does not require that this be done before using the reporting procedure provided in this policy.
All reports and complaints of sexually inappropriate behavior will be directed to the Executive Director and the Board. Management personnel in a need-to-know capacity will be apprised of the complaint. An assessment of the preliminary information provided will be done to determine whether action should be taken to prevent further occurrence of the offensive behavior. For example, it may be appropriate to authorize leave o temporarily reassign personnel.
The investigation will be given priority and begin as soon as practicable to evaluate the information and ensures thoroughness. The investigation generally will begin with an interview of the complainant who will be required to provide details to facilitate the investigative process, such as the behavior complained of, the date, time, and location of the occurrence, the identity of witnesses, and any writings, records, logs, recordings, pictures, or other documentation supporting the complaint. Individuals possessing relevant information will be interviewed. Once all available information has been evaluated, the accused will be interviewed.
All individuals called upon to participate in the investigation are required to fully cooperate and provide truthful responses. Employees, including the accused, do not have the option of remaining silent or declining to get involved. Those questioned may be required to prepare a written statement or provide a recorded statement. Refusal to do so may result in discipline, including but not limited to termination of employment.
The investigation will be conducted expeditiously, professionally, and with due regard for the rights of all involved. To the extent allowed by law, the investigation will be conducted in a confidential manner, with only those in a need-to-know position involved. To preserve the integrity of the investigative process, employees will be instructed that the complaint and all information provided during the interview are to remain confidential. Employees are prohibited from obstructing or interfering with the investigation, which includes questioning or confronting any individual participating in the investigation.
Employees must understand that despite the best efforts and thoroughness of the investigative process, not all complaints can be substantiated. This does not indicate, however, that the complaint was contrived or made in bad faith. As such, employees are encouraged to file good faith complaints without regard for the ultimate outcome.
Upon conclusion of the investigation, the complainant and accused will be apprised of the outcome. LABENFA’s decision is final and concludes its internal administrative investigative process. Regardless of the outcome, the complainant has the option of pursuing a claim under state or federal law. Initiation of such a claim is not dependent upon the outcome nor completion of LABENFA’s administrative investigation. To initiate a claim under federal or state law, employees are referred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights, which may be contacted as follows:
EEOC Dist. Office, Hale Boggs Federal Bldg.
500 Poydras Street, Suite 809
New Orleans, LA 70130
1001 N. 23rd Street, Suite 268
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
In any event, an applicant or employee of LABENFA may contact any of the following to file the complaint:
Mark A. Hebert, Executive Director
5647 Superior Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70816-6049
Phone: (225) 295-8571