AN ACT TO CREATE A CONFIDENTIAL PROCESS FOR REPORTING AND RESOLVING INCIDENTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND OTHER IMPROPER WORKPLACE BEHAVIOR IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, TO REQUIRE TRAINING TO PREVENT WORKPLACE HARASSMENT AND OTHER IMPROPER WORKPLACE BEHAVIOR IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, TO ADOPT CLEAR SANCTIONS, AND TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS.
Enacts new Article 7E, Safe Workplace Act, under GS Chapter 120. Sets out General Assembly findings. Makes the Article applicable to legislators; regular, full-time, part-time, temporary, and contractual employees of the General Assembly; as well as unpaid volunteers and pages. This Article also applies to the interaction of these individuals away from the legislative complex at legislature-sponsored events, professional meetings and seminars, and all activities involving legislative business.
Requires the Legislative Services Commission (LSC), Legislative Ethics Committee (LEC), by December 31, 2019, to jointly develop, adopt, and implement zero tolerance policies regarding sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, gender bias, and all other forms of improper workplace behaviors, which must be incorported into each chamber's permanent rules. Requires the policies to include (1) mandatory annual ethics training for all legislators, legislative officers, and legislative employees, focused on identification and prevention of sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, gender bias, and all other forms of discrimination in the workplace; (2) effective and clear sanctions for incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, gender bias, and all other forms of discrimination in the workplace; and (3) a complaint and investigation process as provided in the act.
Provides that an individual who believes they are the subject of or has witnessed improper workplace behavior should discuss their concerns with the head of the Human Resources Office, the independent third party retained under the Article, or the person designated by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber. Requires the report recipient to take steps to resolve the problem informally. If the problem is not resolved informally to the individual's satisfaction, then the person who received the report is required to promptly refer the matter to the independent third party. Provides for confidentiality. Makes adverse actions taken in retaliation against a reporting individual or an individual participating in an investigation of a claim of harassment or discrimination subject to disciplinary action.
Requires the LSC to contract with an independent third party to provide the following services: (1) confidential information and advice to individuals who report improper workplace behavior, (2) investigative support and advice to the designated employee receiving and investigating reports of misconduct, and (3) investigative actions.
Requires any report involving a legislator or staff to a legislator to be brought to the attention of the relevant presiding officer as well as the relevant minority leader, and any report involving an employee of the LSC will be promptly brought to the attention of the Legislative Services Officer. Sets out actions that may be taken if the investigation supports a finding of a violation. Requires that if the investigation does not support a finding that this policy has been violated, the reporting individual and the individual against whom the allegation was made are to be so advised; requires advising both that retaliation for making the report is prohibited.
Allows a party to appeal the resolution and sets out the timeline for doing so and under which the presiding officer must make a decision.
Appropriates $250,000 for 2019-20 and 2020-21 from the General Fund to the General Assembly, Legislative Services Commission, to implement the act. Sets out how the funds are to be allocated.
Effective July 1, 2019.
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