The East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority expressly prohibits any form of unlawful harassment and/or discrimination, including retaliation. The law and the policies herein apply to anyone in the workplace – applicants, candidates, employees, supervisors, vendors, interns, or any other third party- and prohibits harassment, discrimination and retaliation whether engaged in by fellow employees, by a supervisor or manager, or by someone not directly connected to the Housing Authority (e.g., an outside vendor, consultant or customer).
Conduct prohibited by these policies is unacceptable in the workplace and in any work-related setting outside the workplace, such as during business trips, business meetings and business- related social events. Managers and supervisors are responsible for discussing this policy with subordinates and ensuring that the workplace is free of all forms of harassment and discrimination. Any employee violating this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when, for example:
Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender. Sexual harassment includes the harassment of women by men, men by women and same-sex gender-based harassment. Depending on the circumstances, these unacceptable behaviors may include, but are not limited to: unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors; sexual jokes and innuendos; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; leering, catcalls or touching; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; display or circulation in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects or pictures (including through e-mail); and other physical, verbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature. Sex-based harassment that is, harassment not involving sexual activity or language (e.g., male manager yells only at female employees and not males) may also constitute discrimination if it is severe or pervasive and directed at employees because of their sex.
Harassment – based on any protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited. Under this policy, harassment is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of his/her race, color, religion, national origin, age, political beliefs, disability, [alienage or citizenship status, marital status, creed, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation]. Harassing conduct includes, but is not limited to epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes and display or circulation in the workplace of written or graphic material that defames or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group (including through e-mail).
It is the policy of EBRPHA to provide its employees with a fair and efficient process to present and resolve complaints and grievances arising out of the employment relationship. This process is applicable to employees only on an individual basis. EBRPHA encourages employees to address with their supervisor workplace concerns as they arise. These procedures are available to all employees of EBRPHA.
Employees may present complaints and grievances concerning work related issues. Complaints and grievances should identify the basis of the dispute, including specific facts, and provide relevant documents or any other information pertinent to the matter. Complaints and grievances should also include the employee’s desired result. The employee must provide Human Resources with a written account of the complaint or grievance.
EBRPHA favors communication between supervisors and employees to resolve workplace concerns promptly. To resolve employee disputes promptly, alternative dispute resolution efforts are initially required for the processing of employee complaints.
EBRPHA recognizes that employee grievances of misconduct will require an investigation to gather facts and render a decision. The EBRPHA treats its employees in a fair and objective manner. To demonstrate that commitment, workplace investigations will be conducted in a fair, impartial, and thorough manner that is compliant with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
An investigation is conducted when:
The following are some, but not limited to, example circumstances that will warrant an investigation:
Employees who suspect a violation has been made are to report it to the HR department immediately.
Confidentiality – When an internal investigation is executed, the Housing Authority cannot guarantee confidentiality. However, all involved parties will diligently work to conceal gathered information, e.g., interviews, videos, pictures, and complete a thorough and impartial investigation.
Retaliation – EBRPHA prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination, harassment, or any wrongdoing, or participates in an investigation. Retaliation against an aggrieved individual is a serious violation of this policy and will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
All investigations will be conducted in a reasonable, efficient, and timely manner. Generally, a thorough investigation may take up to forty (40) business days from the date the investigator receives the allegation to the date of the final decision. There may be extenuating circumstances that could extend or lessen the time frame (e.g., the Grievance Procedure timeframe). In those circumstances, the investigator will notify the parties accordingly.
The Housing Authority may take intermediate measures, such as administrative leave, to ensure that a thorough investigation may ensue, and further harassment, discrimination, or any wrongdoing does not occur. An employee may be placed on non-disciplinary administrative leave, with notice and pay pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Employees may be placed on administrative leave to permit the Company to review or investigate actions including, but not limited to, an employee’s behavior, conduct, performance, mental or physical fitness.
Employees placed on administrative leave will be informed verbally and in writing of the suspension and the general nature of the conduct being investigated. Once the investigation is concluded the employee will receive a subsequent letter notifying him/her of the date to return to work, if applicable.
Employees should note that they are “on-the-clock” during business hours while on administrative leave and, therefore are subject to supervisory directives such as reporting requirements and reporting to the office for investigative interviews.
NOTE: Employees placed on administrative leave are paid pending the conclusion of the investigation.
Any reported allegations regarding harassment, discrimination, retaliation, unethical behavior, any form of misconduct or wrongdoing, will be investigated promptly, thoroughly, and impartially.
The investigator (i.e., CEO or designee) will immediately begin an effective, thorough, and objective investigation upon receipt of a report to include notifying EBRPHA’s General Counsel. While the investigation proceeds, the Housing Authority may put reasonable interim measures in place, including but not limited to, a leave of absence (administrative leave), a change of shift, or transfer. Generally, the following steps are taken in an investigation, but timing and sequence may vary depending on the circumstances:
Once the investigator has received an official, signed statement from the employee, he/she will begin scheduling investigative interviews with all named witnesses to include the employee and the alleged offender.
The investigator will collect an official signed statement during each investigative interview from each of the witnesses and the alleged offender.
Once interviews are concluded, the reporter and the alleged offender may mutually agree to an informal resolution. Parties will have five (5) business days to decide. On the six (6) business day, the investigator will resume the investigation.
The investigator continues to collect and review findings pertinent to the alleged compliant/allegation.
If a subject matter expert (SME) report is needed, the investigator will contact the Housing Authority’s General Counsel to receive advice on how to proceed.
All documentation/evidence will be logged and processed by the investigator, and securely stored with need-to-know access.
Once the investigator has conducted all interviews, gathered, and reviewed all documentation/evidence, the investigator will create an official report concluding and summarizing the investigation. The CEO or designee will convene with legal counsel to determine how best to carry out the final ruling. The investigator will send the reporter and the alleged offender an official letter of the Housing Authority’s final ruling.
It is important to note that not every allegation will result in a full investigation as outlined above.
We ask that all employees participate in investigations so that an appropriate determination/resolution is expeditiously resolved. Failure or refusal to cooperate in an investigation of alleged wrongful conduct may subject an employee to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Employees that partake in an investigation will not be retaliated against for their involvement. Such retaliation is discriminatory and is subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
Accused individuals (i.e., vendors, third-party, employees), may defend themselves at any/all stages of the investigation process. If the EBRPHA finds that inappropriate or illegal behavior has occurred, action will be taken accordingly, up to and including termination.
Any employee that makes a false or malicious claim will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Finally, these policies should not, and may not, be used as a basis for excluding or separating individuals of a specific gender, or any other protected characteristic, from participating in business or work-related social activities or discussions to avoid allegations of harassment. The law and the policies of EBRPHA prohibit disparate treatment and disparate impact based on sex or any other protected characteristic, regarding terms, conditions, privileges and perquisites of employment. The prohibitions against harassment, discrimination and retaliation are intended to complement and further these policies, not to form the basis of an exception.