No Protocol for Sexual Harassment Claims by Everett City Employees?

By Joshua Resnek

Whether or not the DeMaria Administration has a protocol for city employees needing to file a sexual harassment claim remains undetermined after repeated calls to the mayor’s office for information regarding the city’s policy went unanswered.

City Solicitor Colleen Mejia was also called by the Leader Herald but failed to return the call.

Also unknown and remaining unanswered by the DeMaria Administration is whether or not sexual harassment claims have been filed against the city or individuals working for the city, and if they have, have payments been made from the city treasury to cover up the incidents, and if this is the case, then for how much?

The Administration’s refusal to answer the Leader Herald’s questions should cause the City Council to ask the City Solicitor to provide the Council with a full disclosure about why the Administration doesn’t have a sexual harassment policy that allows city employees to report department heads or colleagues who have committed indiscretions.

If the administration has a sexual harassment policy and protocol, it should be updated to reflect the difficulties women are having in the workplace as revealed by disclosures all over the nation.

It is likely that there could be women working inside Everett city hall who have been sexually harassed but who cannot come forward for fear of losing their jobs.

The city’s sexual harassment policy in view of what has been revealed about Steven Wynn, becomes all the more important and should be far more transparent than it is.

Under Section 3A of the state’s general laws, Chapter 151B, all employers in the state of Massachusetts are required to promote a workplace free of sexual harassment.

The following is the state law governing what exactly each city and town is required to do:

Section 3A. (a) All employers, employment agencies and labor organizations shall promote a workplace free of sexual harassment.

(b) Every employer shall:

(1) adopt a policy against sexual harassment which shall include:

(i) a statement that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful;

(ii) a statement that it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint of sexual harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of a complaint for sexual harassment;

(iii) a description and examples of sexual harassment;

(iv) a statement of the range of consequences for employees who are found to have committed sexual harassment;

(v) a description of the process for filing internal complaints about sexual harassment and the work addresses and telephone numbers of the person or persons to whom complaints should be made; and

(vi) the identity of the appropriate state and federal employment discrimination enforcement agencies, and directions as to how to contact such agencies.

(2) provide annually to all employees an individual written copy of the employer’s policy against sexual harassment; provided, however, that a new employee shall be provided such a copy at the time of his employment.

(c) The commission shall prepare and provide to employers subject to this section a model policy and poster consistent with federal and state statutes and regulations, which may be used by employers for the purposes of this section.

(d) An employer’s failure to provide the information required to be provided by this section shall not, in and of itself, result in the liability of said employer to any current or former employee or applicant in any action alleging sexual harassment. An employer’s compliance with the notice requirements of this section shall not, in and of itself, protect the employer from liability for sexual harassment of any current or former employee or applicant.

(e) Employers and labor organizations are encouraged to conduct an education and training program for new employees and members, within one year of commencement of employment or membership, which includes at a minimum the information set forth in this section. Employers are encouraged to conduct additional training for new supervisory and managerial employees and members within one year of commencement of employment or membership, which shall include at a minimum the information set forth in subsection (b), the specific responsibilities of supervisory and managerial employees and the methods that such employees should take to ensure immediate and appropriate corrective action in addressing sexual harassment complaints. Employers, labor organizations and appropriate state agencies are encouraged to cooperate in making such training available.

If the Administration does have a protocol for handling sexual harassment incidents, how many have occurred and in what departments and against whom have charges been lodged, and why wasn’t this information forthcoming to the Leader Herald?

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