Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy

Policy Approve By
Scott McCallum, Superintendent
Policy Date (original policy date)
Policy Prepared By
Anne Baker. Human Resources Director
Policy Category
Personnel

SUBJECT: Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy

PURPOSE:

Purpose:  This policy identifies and prohibits behaviors that are inconsistent with a safe and harassment-free work environment.

This policy is used together with the agency Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Policy and the agency Reasonable Accommodation Policy.

This policy is intended to comply with the prohibitions listed in state and federal anti-discrimination laws.  As of the most recent update to this policy, the following areas are protected by law from discrimination and harassment:

  • Race/Color;  
  • National Origin; 
  • Creed;  
  • Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity; 
  • Breastfeeding (in public accommodation);
  • Age (40+, employment only);
  • Veteran/Military Status;
  • State Employee Whistleblower;
  • Actual and Perceived Disability;
  • Marital Status (except in public accommodation);
  • Use of a Service Animal;
  • HIV or Hepatitis C; and
  • Sex/Pregnancy

POLICY STATEMENT:

The Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) will provide and promote a safe and harassment-free work environment. WSSB will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or retaliation of any kind.  Through enforcement of this policy and by education of employees, WSSB will prevent, correct, and discipline behavior that violates this policy. WSSB employees violating this policy may be subject to disciplinary action under chapter 357-40 WAC Discipline and/or the provisions of applicable Collective Bargaining Agreements. 

  1. WSSB will take appropriate and swift action up to and including dismissal to address any violation of this policy; and
  2. Any employee who initiates or participates in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including, dismissal.

A. Discrimination is illegal and prohibited by WSSB. Discrimination is strictly prohibited by federal, state, and local laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Age Discrimination Act of 1975; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

It is a violation of this policy, state law, and federal law to:

  1. Discriminate in the provision of employment opportunities, benefits, or privileges;
  2. Create discriminatory work conditions; and
  3. Use discriminatory evaluative standards in employment if the basis of that discriminatory treatment is, in whole or in part, based on membership in a protected class, or retaliation for assisting in the investigation of a complaint.

B. Harassment is illegal and prohibited by WSSB.

1. Harassment, including sexual harassment (as defined by CFR Title 29 §1604.11) or creating a hostile work environment (as defined by EEOC Notice No. 915.002) is illegal.  WSSB will take appropriate and swift action up to and including dismissal to address any violation of this policy.

2. Some examples of behavior or actions that could be perceived by others to create a hostile work environment include, but are not limited to:

  • Racial or ethnic epithets;
  • Discriminatory verbal intimidation, ridicule and insults;
  • Denying salary increases, promotions and assignments to more desirable work that is motivated based on a protected class status;
  • Yelling, verbal intimidation, ridicule or insults by a supervisor directed at a person in a protected class but not at others; and
  • Jokes directed at individuals in a protected class that are unwelcome or offensive.

C. Retaliation or attempted retaliation is illegal and prohibited by WSSB.

1. No hardship, loss of benefits, or penalty may be imposed on an employee as punishment for one or more of the following:

  • Filing or responding to a bona fide complaint of discrimination or harassment;
  • Appearing as a witness in the investigation of a complaint; and
  • Serving as an investigator.

2. Any employee who initiates or participates in retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including, dismissal.

D. Roles and Responsibilities.

1. Managers and supervisors shall model appropriate behavior and are responsible to:

  • Ensure new employees receive training on this policy within the first six months of their employment;
  • Assure staff review this policy annually and the review is documented in the employee’s personnel file;
  • Consult with the HR director to determine appropriate action calculated to stop harassment and discriminatory behavior that is observed and/or of which they become aware; and
  • Take appropriate corrective or disciplinary action when harassment and/or discriminatory behavior occur.

2. Human Resources will provide managers and employees with:

  • Technical assistance and consultation; and 
  • Training to prevent harassment, discrimination, and inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature in the workplace.

3. Employees who feel they are being harassed are encouraged to identify the offensive behavior to the harasser either in person or in writing.  If the employee is uncomfortable in confronting the offender directly or if after doing so the behavior has not stopped, the employee should immediately report violations of this policy to their supervisor and/or Human Resources.  Employees are encouraged to report harassment before it becomes severe or pervasive.  Supervisors must take immediate action upon learning of or observing harassment within the work unit.

E. Certain non-disclosure agreements, as a condition of employment are prohibited. WSSB may not require an employee, as a condition of employment, to sign a nondisclosure agreement, waiver, or other document that prevents the employee from disclosing sexual harassment or sexual assault occurring in the workplace, at work-related events coordinated by or through the employer, or between employees, or between an employer and an employee, off the employment premises in accordance with section 1, chapter 117, Laws of 2018.