In light of the recent highly publicized allegations of sexually-related misconduct, The Washington Post reports the Maryland legislature is now tracking complaints of sexual harassment involving all staff and updating their policies regarding such misconduct. The state government maintains their policies in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Code of Maryland, and Maryland Code of Fair Employment Practices.
Any employee feeling they were subjected to sexual harassment is encouraged to contact the Fair Practices Officer or other management. Officers with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) may handle complaints and violators face disciplinary action, as the state believes no employee should encounter harassment.
What is Workplace Sexual Harassment?
This form of discrimination violates the law and is contrary to state practices. Harassment may include sexually-oriented advances or asking for sexual favors that may be verbal, non-verbal or based on physical action. Examples of verbal conduct include sexually-based insinuations, threats, jokes or propositions. Non-verbal examples include sexually-based noises, whistles, gestures, or exposing others to explicit material. Harassment may occur regardless of gender or position within the organization.
Quid Pro Quo
This term meaning “something for something” in Latin implies that some favor or assistance is done in exchange for something in return. In this context, it is conduct that is unwelcomed of a sexual nature that is either clear or implied, as a condition or term of a person’s employment. An individual may be placed in a position where their response to the conduct has ramifications associated with their employment.
Hostile Workplace Atmosphere
This is unwelcomed conduct of a sexual nature that may be centered on the gender of the victim. The conduct may create a work atmosphere perceived by the victim to be abusive or hostile. Victims may be male or female and may or may not have a supervisory relationship within the organization.
Responsibilities of Parties
Duties of Employees
Employees who feel that sexual harassment has happened should act as follows:
- Tell the person that the conduct is not appreciated and ask that they stop to avoid any misconception that the behavior is welcomed.
- A victim is not required to confront the individual directly.
- If the conduct persists, it should be reported an EEO Officer, supervisor, or other management.
- If the harasser is an immediate supervisor, it should be reported to one of their superiors.
Duties of the Agency
Upon receiving information regarding harassment, agency responsibilities include:
- An investigation executed within 30 days with the findings put in writing.
- The state’s Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator is a potential resource for assistance.
- If the investigation finds sexual harassment has occurred, there should be disciplinary action taken.
- Victims must be notified of rights to bring the matter to the Commissions of Human Relations for Maryland or U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity.
- Actions are conducted in a manner respecting the confidentiality of the parties.
- Follow-up with the victim with an inquiry regarding any potential retaliation which is summarized in writing.