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Anti-Harassment Policy for the Honest Weight Food Co-op

Thank you for your interest in the Co-op's Anti-Harassment Policy. The Co-op strives to maintain an environment free of harassment and discrimination. 

2019-08-15 Anti-Harassment Policy 
HONEST WEIGHT FOOD COOPERATIVE, INC.
ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY FOR EMPLOYEES AND OWNERS

Introduction

Honest Weight Food Cooperative, Inc. (“HWFC”) is committed to maintaining a workplace free from harassment of any kind, including harassment based on sex, race, color, religion, pregnancy, gender, citizenship, ethnicity, marital status, disability, national origin or ancestry, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, military status, domestic victim status, criminal history, or any other status protected by law (each defined as a “Protected Category”).

To be clear, this policy prohibits sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination.

All employees and owners are required to work or otherwise provide services to or invest time at HWFC (as the case may be) in a manner that prevents harassment at HWFC. This policy is one component of HWFC’s commitment to a discrimination-free environment. Harassment is against the law, and all employees and owners have a legal right to an environment free from harassment, and employees and owners are urged to report harassment by filing a complaint internally with HWFC. For all individuals working at HWFC (which does not include owners) who believe they have been subject to harassment should inform a manager, HWFC’s Human Resources Director, or HWFC’s Chief Cooperative Officer (CCO). All owners who believe they have been subject to harassment should inform HWFC’s Member-Owner Coordinator (MOC) or any officer of HWFC’s Board of Directors. Employees can also file a complaint with a government agency or in court under federal, state or local anti-discrimination laws. Owners may have similar rights under federal, state or local anti-discrimination laws.

Policy

HWFC’s policy applies to all employees, applicants for employment, interns (whether paid or unpaid), owners, contractors, vendors, consultants and anyone providing services or investing time for HWFC, regardless of immigration status.

Harassment will not be tolerated. Any individual covered by this policy (except an owner) who engages in harassment or retaliation will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary employment action (e.g., counseling, suspension, termination). Any owner that violates this policy will be subject to sanction and/or other penalty as provided for in HWFC’s Member-Owner Manual and/or Bylaws.

No person covered by this policy shall be subject to adverse action because they report an incident of harassment, provides information, or otherwise assists in any investigation of a harassment complaint. HWFC will not tolerate such retaliation against anyone who, in good faith, reports or provides information about suspected harassment. Any individual (except an owner) who retaliates against anyone involved in a harassment investigation will be subjected to disciplinary employment action, up to and including termination. Any owner who retaliates against anyone involved in a harassment investigation will be subject to sanction and/or other penalty as provided for in HWFC’s Member-Owner Manual and/or Bylaws. All individuals working at HWFC (which does not include owners) who believe they have been subject to such retaliation should inform a manager, HWFC’s Human Resources Director, or HWFC’s CCO. All owners who believe they have been subject to retaliation should inform HWFC’s MOC or any officer of HWFC’s Board of Directors. All individuals covered by this policy who believe they have been a target of such retaliation may also seek relief in other available forums, including the New York State Division of Human Rights, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or State or federal court. 

Harassment is offensive, is a violation of our policies, is unlawful, and may subject HWFC to liability for harm to targets of harassment. Harassers may also be individually subject to liability. Individuals covered by this policy (except owners) who engage in harassment will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary employment action. Owners who engage in harassment will be subject to sanction and/or other penalty as provided for in HWFC’s Member-Owner Manual and/or Bylaws. Managers and supervisors who allow harassing behavior to continue will be subject to remedial and/or disciplinary employment action. Owners who allow harassing behavior to continue will be subject to sanction and/or other penalty as provided for in HWFC’s Member-Owner Manual and/or Bylaws.

HWFC will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation that ensures due process for all parties, whenever it receives a complaint about harassment, or otherwise knows of possible harassment occurring. HWFC will keep the investigation confidential to the extent possible. Effective corrective action will be taken whenever harassment is found to have occurred. All individuals covered by this policy are required to cooperate with any internal investigation of harassment.

All individuals covered by this policy are encouraged to report any harassment or behaviors that violate this policy. HWFC will provide a complaint form to report harassment and file complaints.

Managers and supervisors are required to report any complaint that they receive, or any harassment that they observe or become aware of, to HWFC’s Human Resources Director or HWFC’s CCO. Owners are required to report any harassment that they observe or become aware of to HWFC’s MOC or any officer of HWFC’s Board of Directors.

This policy shall be provided to all covered individuals and will be posted prominently in all work locations, to the extent practicable, and shall be provided to all covered individuals upon their initial affiliation with HWFC.

What Is “Harassment”?

Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct or speech directed at an individual or group of indi-viduals, based on a Protected Category, which interferes with an individual’s work performance, terms of employment, or it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for work or time investment or owner opportunities for participation at HWFC.


• Harassment may include, but is not limited to:
• Offensive remarks, comments, jokes, slurs, or verbal conduct pertaining to a Protected Category;
• Offensive pictures, drawings, photographs, figurines, or other graphic images, conduct, or communications, including e-mail, faxes, and copies pertaining to a Protected Category;
• Offensive sexual remarks, sexual advances, or requests for sexual favors regardless of the gender of the individuals involved; and
• Offensive physical conduct, including touching and gestures, regardless of the gender of the individuals involved.

What Is “Sexual Harassment”?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender expression, gender identity and the status of being transgender.
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature, or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when:


• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance of work or the provision of services to HWFC (as the case may be) or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment;
• Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of work or the provision of services to HWFC (as the case may be); or
• Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions or ownership participation decisions affecting an individual’s employment or ownership, as the case may be.

A sexually harassing hostile environment includes, but is not limited to, words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex. Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, which interfere with the recipient’s job performance of work or the provision of services to HWFC (as the case may be).
Sexual harassment also occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job or ownership benefits for sexual favors. This can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or ownership or any other terms, conditions or privileges of employment or ownership. This is also called “quid pro quo” harassment.
Any individual covered by this policy who feels harassed should report such conduct so that any violation of this policy can be corrected promptly. Any harassing conduct, even a single incident, can be addressed under this policy.

Examples of sexual harassment

The following describes some of the types of acts that may be unlawful sexual harassment and that are strictly prohibited:

• Physical acts of a sexual nature, such as:
     o Touching, pinching, patting, kissing, hugging, grabbing, brushing against another employee’s body or poking another employee’s body;
     o Rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit these assaults.
• Unwanted sexual advances or propositions, such as:
     o Requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning the target’s job performance evaluation, a promotion or other job benefits or detriments;
     o Subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities.
• Sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks or jokes, or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience, which create a hostile work environment.
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• Sex stereotyping occurs when conduct or personality traits are considered inappropriate simply because they may not conform to other people's ideas or perceptions about how individuals of a particular sex should act or look.
• Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the workplace, such as:
     o Displaying pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional material, reading materials or other materials that are sexually demeaning or pornographic. This includes such sexual displays on workplace computers or cell phones and sharing such displays while in the workplace.
• Hostile actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sex, sexual orienta-tion, gender identity, or gender expression, and the status of being transgender, such as:
     o Interfering with, destroying or damaging a person’s workstation, tools or equipment, or otherwise interfering with the individual’s ability to perform the job;
     o Sabotaging an individual’s work;
     o Bullying, yelling, name-calling.


Who can be a target of sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment can occur between any individuals, regardless of their sex or gender. New York Law protects employees, applicants, paid or unpaid interns, owners, contractors, consultants and anyone providing services in the workplace or at HWFC events and functions. Harassers can be a superior, a subordinate, a coworker or anyone in the workplace including an owner, independent contractor, contract worker, vendor, client, customer or visitor.

Where can sexual harassment occur?

Unlawful sexual harassment is not limited to the physical workplace itself. It can occur while in-dividuals covered by this policy are traveling for HWFC business or at HWFC sponsored events or parties. Calls, texts, emails, and social media usage by individuals can constitute unlawful work-place harassment, even if they occur away from HWFC premises, on personal devices or during non-work or non-investment or non-event and function hours, as the case may be.

Retaliation

Unlawful retaliation can be any action that could discourage an individual covered by this policy from coming forward to make or support a harassment claim. Adverse action need not be job-related or occur in the workplace or on HWFC premises or at HWFC functions and events to constitute unlawful retaliation (e.g., threats of physical violence outside of work hours).

Such retaliation is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. For example, the New York State Human Rights Law protects any individual who has engaged in “protected activity.” Protected activity occurs when a person has:

• made a complaint of harassment, either internally or with any anti-discrimination agency;
• testified or assisted in a proceeding involving harassment under the Human Rights Law or other anti-discrimination law;
• opposed harassment by making a verbal or informal complaint to management or the MOC or officer of the Board, or by simply informing a supervisor or manager or other owner of harassment;
• reported that another employee or owner has been harassed; or
• encouraged a fellow employee or owner to report harassment.


Even if the alleged harassment does not turn out to rise to the level of a violation of law, the individual is protected from retaliation if the individual had a good faith belief that the practices were unlawful. However, the retaliation provision is not intended to protect persons making intentionally false charges of harassment.

Reporting Harassment

Preventing harassment is everyone’s responsibility. HWFC cannot prevent or remedy harassment unless it knows about it. All individuals (except owners, whose reporting requirements are addressed below) who have been subjected to behavior that may constitute harassment are encouraged to report such behavior to a manager, HWFC’s Human Resources Director or HWFC’s CCO. All individuals (except owners) who witness or become aware of potential instances of harassment should report such behavior to a manager, HWFC’s Human Resources Director or HWFC’s CCO. All owners who have been subjected to behavior that may constitute harassment are encouraged to report such behavior to HWFC’s MOC or any officer of HWFC’s Board of Directors. All managers or supervisors who witness or become aware of potential instances of harassment must report such behavior to HWFC’s Human Resources Director or HWFC's CCO. All owners who witness or become aware of potential instances of harassment must report such behavior to HWFC’s MOC or any officer of HWFC’s Board of Directors.

Reports of harassment may be made verbally or in writing. A form for submission of a written complaint is attached to this policy, and all individuals are encouraged to use this complaint form. Individuals who are reporting sexual harassment on behalf of other individuals should use the complaint form and note that it is on another individual’s behalf.

Supervisory Responsibilities

All supervisors and managers who receive a complaint or information about suspected harassment, observe what may be harassing behavior or for any reason suspect that harassment is occurring, are required to report such suspected harassment to HWFC’s Human Resources Director, HWFC’s Chief Financial Officer or HWFC’s CCO.

In addition to being subject to discipline if they engaged in harassing conduct themselves, supervisors and managers will be subject to discipline for failing to report suspected harassment or otherwise knowingly allowing harassment to continue.

Supervisors and managers will also be subject to discipline for engaging in any retaliation.

Member-Owner Responsibilities

All Member-Owners who observe what may be harassing behavior are required to report such suspected harassment to HWFC’s MOC or any officer of HWFC’s Board of Directors.

In addition to being subject to sanction and/or other penalty if they engaged in harassing conduct themselves, owners will be subject to sanction and/or other penalty, in addition to sanctions and/or penalty as provided for in HWFC’s Member-Owner Manual and/or Bylaws, for failing to report observed harassment or otherwise knowingly allowing harassment to continue.


Owners will also be subject to sanction and/or other penalty, in addition to sanctions and/or penalty as provided for in HWFC’s Member-Owner Manual and/or Bylaws, for engaging in any retaliation.

Complaint and Investigation of Harassment

All complaints or information about harassment will be investigated, whether that information was reported in verbal or written form. Investigations will be conducted in a timely manner, and will be confidential to the extent possible.


An investigation of any complaint, information or knowledge of suspected harassment will be prompt and thorough, commenced immediately and completed as soon as possible. The investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible. All persons involved, including complainants, witnesses and alleged harassers will be accorded due process, as outlined below, to protect their rights to a fair and impartial investigation.

Any individual covered by this policy may be required to cooperate as needed in an investigation of suspected harassment. HWFC will not tolerate retaliation against any individuals who file complaints, support another’s complaint or participate in an investigation regarding a violation of this policy.

While the process may vary from case to case, investigations will typically be done in accordance with the following steps:

• Upon receipt of complaint, HWFC will conduct an immediate review of the allegations, and take any interim actions (e.g., instructing the alleged harasser to refrain from communications with the complainant), as appropriate. If complaint is verbal, encourage the individual to complete the “Complaint Form” in writing. If the individual refuses, prepare a Complaint Form based on the verbal reporting.
• If documents, emails or phone records are relevant to the investigation, take steps to obtain and preserve them.
• Request and review all relevant documents, including all electronic communications.
• Interview all parties involved, including any relevant witnesses.
• Create a written documentation of the investigation (such as a letter, memo or email), which contains the following:
     o A list of all documents reviewed, along with a detailed summary of relevant documents;
     o A list of names of those interviewed, along with a detailed summary of their statements;
     o A timeline of events;
     o A summary of prior relevant incidents, reported or unreported; and
     o The basis for the decision and final resolution of the complaint, together with any corrective action(s).
• Keep the written documentation and associated documents in a secure and confidential location.
• Promptly notify the individual who reported and the individual(s) about whom the complaint was made of the final determination and implement any corrective actions identified in the written document.
• Inform the individual who reported of the right to file a complaint or charge externally.


Other Forums Available to Address Harassment


Individuals covered by this policy who believe they have been a target of harassment may also seek assistance in other available forums, including the New York State Division of Human Rights, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or State or federal court.

Legal Protections and External Remedies With Respect to Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is not only prohibited by HWFC but is also prohibited by state, federal, and, where applicable, local law.


Aside from the internal process at HWFC, individuals covered by this policy may also choose to pursue legal remedies with various governmental entities (as outlined below). While a private attorney is not required to file a complaint with a governmental agency, an employee may seek the legal advice of an attorney.


In addition to those outlined below, employees in certain industries may have additional legal protections.

State Human Rights Law (HRL)


The Human Rights Law (HRL), codified as N.Y. Executive Law, art. 15, § 290 et seq., applies to all employers in New York State with regard to sexual harassment, and protects employees, paid or unpaid interns and non-employees, regardless of immigration status. A complaint alleging violation of the Human Rights Law may be filed either with the Division of Human Rights (DHR) or in New York State Supreme Court.


Complaints with DHR may be filed any time within three years of the harassment. If an individual did not file at DHR, the individual can sue directly in state court under the HRL, within three years of the alleged sexual harassment. An individual may not file with DHR if they have already filed a HRL complaint in state court.


Complaining internally to HWFC does not extend your time to file with DHR or in court. The three years are counted from date of the most recent incident of harassment.


You do not need an attorney to file a complaint with DHR, and there is no cost to file with DHR.


DHR will investigate your complaint and determine whether there is probable cause to believe that sexual harassment has occurred. Probable cause cases are forwarded to a public hearing before an administrative law judge. If sexual harassment is found after a hearing, DHR has the power to award relief, which varies but may include requiring your employer or HWFC to take action to stop the harassment, or redress the damage caused, including paying of monetary damages and civil fines. A prevailing party shall be awarded attorney’s fees. An employer can be a prevailing party, but must establish that the lawsuit or proceeding was frivolous.


DHR’s main office contact information is: NYS Division of Human Rights, One Fordham Plaza, Fourth Floor, Bronx, New York 10458. You may call (718) 741-8400 or visit: www.dhr.ny.gov.


Contact DHR at (888) 392-3644 or visit dhr.ny.gov/complaint for more information about filing a complaint. The website has a complaint form that can be downloaded, filled out, notarized and
mailed to DHR. The website also contains contact information for DHR’s regional offices across New York State.


Civil Rights Act of 1964

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act (codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). An individual can file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 days from the harassment. There is no cost to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the complaint, and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred, at which point the EEOC will issue a Right to Sue letter permitting the individual to file a complaint in federal court.


The EEOC does not hold hearings or award relief, but may take other action including pursuing cases in federal court on behalf of complaining parties. Federal courts may award remedies if discrimination is found to have occurred. In general, private employers must have at least 15 employees to come within the jurisdiction of the EEOC.


An employee alleging discrimination at work can file a “Charge of Discrimination.” The EEOC has district, area, and field offices where complaints can be filed. Contact the EEOC by calling 1-800-669-4000 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820), visiting their website at www.eeoc.gov or via email at info@eeoc.gov.

If an individual filed an administrative complaint with DHR, DHR will file the complaint with the EEOC to preserve the right to proceed in federal court.

Local Protections

Many localities enforce laws protecting individuals from sexual harassment and discrimination. An individual should contact the county, city or town in which they live to find out if such a law exists.

Contact the Local Police Department

If the harassment involves unwanted physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Contact the local police department.