All persons associated with the Gardner Public schools including, but not necessarily limited to, the committee, the administration, the staff, and the students, are expected to conduct themselves at all times so as to provide an atmosphere free from sexual harassment. Any person who engages in sexual harassment while acting as a member of the school community will be in violation of this policy. Further, any retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment or retaliation against individuals for cooperating in an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated. The Gardner Public Schools will ensure that there will be sexual harassment training each year.
This policy is not intended to limit our authority to discipline or take remedial action for conduct which we deem unacceptable, regardless of whether that conduct satisfies the definition of sexual harassment.
II. Definition of Sexual Harassment: in Massachusetts, the legal definition for sexual harassment is this: “sexual harassment” meanssexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:
1. Submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or educational development.
2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment or educational decisions affecting such individual.
3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educationalperformance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment.
Under these definitions, direct or implied requests by a supervisor for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job or educational benefits such as favorable reviews, favorable grades, salary increases, promotions, increased benefits, or continued employment constitutes sexual harassment.
The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad and in addition to the above examples, other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a workplace or school environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating, or humiliating to male or female workers or students may also constitute sexual harassment.
While it is not possible to list all those additional circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct which if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:
- Unwelcome sexual advances – whether they involve physical touching or not.
- Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life; comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess.
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons.
- Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments.
- Inquiries into one’s sexual experiences, and
- Discussion of one’s sexual activities.
III. Complaints of Sexual Harassment
If any of our employees believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment, the employee has the right to file a complaint. This may be done in writing or orally.
If you would like to file a complaint, you may do so by contacting the Assistant Superintendent or other person designated by the Superintendent. The Assistant Superintendent or Superintendent designee is also available to discuss any concerns you may have and to provide information to you about this policy on sexual harassment and our complaint process.
If a student wishes to file a complaint, he/she may do so with the school guidance counselor. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the guidance counselor will discuss the matter with the Assistant Superintendentor Superintendent designee.
When we receive the complaint, we will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. The investigation will be conducted in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. Where it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, we will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose corrective action including disciplinary action, where appropriate.
IV. Disciplinary Action
If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has been committed by one of our employees or students, we will take such action as is appropriate under the circumstances. Such action may range from counseling to termination, and may include such other forms of disciplinary action as we deem appropriate under the circumstances.
V. State and Federal Remedies. In addition to the above, if you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you may file a formal complaint with either or both of the government agencies set forth below. Using our complaint process does not prohibit you from filing a complaint with these agencies. Each of the agencies has a short time period for filing a claim (EEOC – 300 days; MCAD – 300 days).
- The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), One Congress Street, 10th Floor, Boston, Ma 02114, 617-565-3200.
- The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) Boston Office: One Ashburton Place, Room 601, Boston, Ma 02108, 617-994-6000; Springfield Office: 424 Dwight Street, Room 220, Springfield, Ma 01103, 416-739-2145.
Source: Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Inc.
Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Inc.; Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151A, Section 25 (e) and Chapter 151B, Sections 1&4.
[Revised: February 10, 1997]
[Revised: April 12, 1999]
[Revised: December 12, 2000]
[Reviewed: January 2003]
[Revised: April 2007]
[Revised: November 2007]