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  • Summary date: Mar 15 2023 - View Summary

    Enacts new Article 7E, the “Safe Workplace Act,” (Act) to GS Chapter 120. Finds that that early reporting and intervention are most effective in resolving actual or perceived incidents of improper workplace behavior. Encourages the prompt reporting of incidents or concerns so that rapid and constructive action can be taken before relationships become irreparably strained and before offensive conduct continues or escalates. Further encourages good-faith reporting of all perceived incidents of improper workplace behavior, regardless of the offender's identity or position.

    Specifies the Act applies to legislators, regular, full-time, part-time, temporary, and contractual employees of the General Assembly, as well as unpaid volunteers and pages. Also applies to the interaction of these individuals away from the legislative complex at legislature-sponsored events, professional meetings and seminars, and all activities  that involve legislative business.

    Defines sexual harassment. Requires the Legislative Services Commission (LSC) and the Legislative Ethics Committee (LEC), by December 31, 2023, to jointly develop, adopt, and implement "zero tolerance" policies regarding sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, gender discrimination, and all other forms of improper workplace behaviors. Specifies that the policies must include: (1) mandatory annual ethics training for all legislators, legislative officers, and legislative employees of the General Assembly that focuses on identification and prevention of sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, gender discrimination, and all other forms of discrimination in the workplace; (2) effective and clear sanctions for incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, misconduct, gender discrimination, and all other forms of workplace discrimination that is applicable to all legislators, legislative officers, and legislative employees; and (3) a complaint and investigation process.  Requires that those policies be incorporated by reference into each chamber's permanent rules. Requires the LSC to contract with an independent third party to provide the following services related to implementation of the Act: (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; (3) formal investigative actions if an informal resolution cannot be made as discussed below.

    Designates the head of the Human Resources Office, the independent third party retained pursuant to the Act, and the persons designated by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber as individuals who should receive reports from persons who have either experienced or witnessed improper workplace behavior. Requires those individuals to take steps to resolve the problem informally. Prohibits retaliation against an individual for reporting sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination.  If the report cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the reporting individual, directs the independent third party to investigate the report. Specifies that the investigation is confidential. Requires reports involving a legislator or a legislator's staff to be brought to the attention of the presiding office and minority leader; reports involving employees must be brought to the attention of the Legislative Services Officer. Requires prompt and remedial action if the investigation supports a finding of a violation of the Act. Sets out appropriate responsive and disciplinary actions. If the investigation does not support a finding that the Act has been violated, requires that the individual making the report and the individual against whom the allegation was made be informed and advised that retaliation for making the report is prohibited. Provides for an appeal process. 

    Appropriates $250,000 from the General Fund to the LSC for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 fiscal years to implement the Act, specifying $50,000 for literature and training materials and $200,000 for the contractual services specified above.

    Effective July 1, 2023.