Thursday April 11, 2013
At the April 3rd school board meeting, harassment of employee policy D6 was read and discussed for the sixth time. Additions and changes had been made to the document after receiving advice from their attorney, Pietro Lynn.
Most employers create a harassment policy which only meets the minimum requirements of the law. The proposal drafted by the school board expands on the basic policy and differentiates between harassment, unlawful harassment, sexual harassment, adverse action, and legally protected minority groups. This policy would go beyond what the law requires to include a ban on harassment, not only toward protected groups or classes, but also based upon creed, race, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, disability, and harassment based on protected concerted activity. Lynn advised the board to be cognizant of the fact that since their draft goes further than what the law requires there is the potential that this could expose them to more liability.
Many positives to implementing a more thorough policy were mentioned. Martin LaLonde said, “This puts all employees on notice that these types of harassment are not acceptable.”
Diane Bugbee agreed. “This shows that we intend to create a safe workplace.”
“It seems like the fair and right thing to do…to prohibit harassment even if one is not part of a protected class,” Chair Richard Cassidy said.
Elizabeth Fitzgerald said that although it speaks to the culture they want to ensure in the District, she questioned if these items were included in other policies, such as treatment of employees. Cassidy said that some of them could be, but they may be in several different places. This way, someone who needed to find harassment information could reference one document. Fitzgerald also wanted to know if they were over complicating matters with this policy. She wanted to know if an undue burden would be created if a situation arose that made this difficult to administer. In light of these concerns and with agreement from her fellow board members, she suggested that a model policy be made available. this would allow for a side by side comparison to see where exactly the draft differs and to determine if they are, in fact, adding value to their policy. This policy will be brought back to the board by the Superintendent for further discussion.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent