Harassment

Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policy

Harassment, including sexual harassment, is prohibited by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office for Civil Rights, and state regulations (R.S.23:301,312,332), and therefore, it is the policy of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Board of Supervisors and SOWELA Technical Community College that unlawful harassment of employees and students is prohibited.

Harassment is physical, verbal, and visual conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment, which interferes with work or academic performance. This includes harassment because of race, sex, sexual orientation, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, disability or medical condition, age, or any other basis protected by federal, state or local law, ordinance or regulation.

Sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic success
  2. Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual
  3. Such conduct has the purpose and effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment

SOWELA applies this definition to the areas of academic advancement, academic standing, or academic performance.

The workplace or academic harassment infringes on employees' or students' rights to a comfortable work or academic environment, and it is a form of misconduct that undermines the integrity of the employment or academic relationship. No employee or student, male or female, should be subjected to unsolicited and unwelcome overtures or conduct, either verbally, visually, physically, or electronically transmitted. Although this list is not all-inclusive, examples of conduct that is prohibited include the following:

  • Taking any personnel or academic action on the basis of an employee's or student's submission to or refusal of sexual overtures
  • Unwelcome or unwanted conversation
  • Unwelcome or unwanted touching
  • Continued or repeated verbal abuse of a sexual nature
  • Explicit or degrading verbal comments, suggestions, or slurs about another individual or his/her appearance
  • Offensive comments regarding sexual or private matters
  • Display of sexually suggestive pictures, objects
  • Offensive jokes
  • Verbal abuse, comments, names, or slurs that in any way relate to an individual's race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, or disability
  • Any other offensive or abusive physical, visual, or verbal conduct

This policy applies to all members of the LCTCS Board of Supervisors, employees, students, supervisors, managers, faculty, vendors, and all other individuals doing business with SOWELA. It is the policy of SOWELA that no member of the SOWELA community may harass another. This includes harassment of an employee by another employee, of a student by an employee, of an employee by a student, of a student by another student. Additionally, under appropriate circumstances, SOWELA may take action to protect its employees and students from harassment, on SOWELA property, or at events sponsored by SOWELA, by individuals who are not students or employees of SOWELA.

A complaint of harassment should be presented as promptly as possible after the alleged harassment occurs. Employees who believe they are the subject of harassment or who have knowledge of harassing behavior must report such conduct to their direct supervisors, and the institution's human resource department. SOWELA has developed a system of recording all formal written complaints to be submitted and kept on file in the office of Human Resources.

Students who have problems, questions, and grievances can discuss these with a SOWELA counselor. Some college officials or faculty members can assist in counseling for sexual harassment problems. Throughout the counseling process, information divulged is held in the strictest confidence, and no information is released unless the complainant agrees to inform a third party who can facilitate a solution. Any students inquiring about a complaint or concern can seek the advice of a SOWELA faculty or staff member, and the faculty or staff member can accompany the student to discussions with the designated officer, advisor, or counselor. A formal charge is not made by merely discussing the complaint, and no repercussions or reprimands are issued for initiating a complaint.

However, the college is also obliged to protect the rights of a person(s) against whom a complaint is lodged. Efforts are made to resolve issues in a reasonable amount of time.

Students who believe they are the subject of harassment or who have knowledge of harassing behavior must report such conduct to the Executive Director of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs or Designee. They also may submit a complaint to the Chancellor. No student or employee is required to report or make a complaint of harassment to the person who is allegedly engaging in the problematic conduct. In the event that an individual feels uncomfortable making a complaint at the institutional level, such complaints may be made at the system level with the LCTCS Director of Human Resources, Louisiana Community and Technical College System, 265 South Foster Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70806. The phone number is (225) 219-8700.

Employee complaints of harassment should be reported to:

Director of Human Resources Human Resources Office

Charleston Building, Suite 1104

(337) 421-6510

Student complaints of harassment should be reported to:

Director of Student Services

Magnolia Building - Student Success Center

(337) 421-6952

Complaints of harassment will be investigated promptly and in as an impartial and confidential a manner as possible. A member of human resources will conduct investigations, unless otherwise deemed necessary, in order to ensure an impartial and confidential investigation. SOWELA will not tolerate any type of discipline or retaliation, direct or indirect, against any employee, student or other person who, in good faith, files a complaint of or responds to questions in regard to having witnessed prohibited harassment.

False charges are treated as serious offenses and may result in disciplinary and/or civil action.

Any employee, student or member of management who is found, after appropriate investigation, to have engaged in harassing conduct is subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment and/or student standing per the College's current policies which govern students.

Appeal:

  • To obtain a hearing with the Chancellor, a student must submit a written request within 10 days after the report from the Human Resource office is rendered.
  • Once the Chancellor receives a request for a hearing, he/she appoints a chairperson to head the Committee of Review. Two members are also selected for the committee in the following manner:
    • The complainant selects one committee member
    • The person named in the complaint selects a member
  • Only full-time, permanent employees can serve on the Committee of Review. The composition of the Committee of Review may include faculty, staff, or a combination of both.
  • Committee of Review thoroughly investigates the complaint of sexual harassment and conducts a hearing. Involved parties are informed of the date and time of the hearing by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least three days prior to the scheduled hearing. An accused faculty member is given notice pursuant to “Section 212” of the Policy Manual and relevant sections of the Policy Manual and SOWELA statutes.
  • Hearing is conducted pursuant to procedures established by the Committee of Review and in compliance with the policy.
  • Committee presents its findings, along with any pertinent information, to the Chancellor for further dispensation, which usually takes place within 10 working days after the conclusion of the hearing.
  • The Chancellor renders a final decision and notifies the involved parties within a reasonable period of time.

3820 Senator J. Bennett Johnston Avenue
Lake Charles, Louisiana 70615
(337) 421-6565
(800) 256-0483
info@sowela.edu

Mon-Thu: 7:45 AM to 4:15 PM
Friday: 7:45 AM to 12:00 PM
(337) 421-6550

SOWELA Technical Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, or age in its programs and activities. The following person(s) have been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies:

Title IX Officer

Candy Parker

candy.parker@sowela.edu

(337) 421-6510 or (800) 256-0483

3820 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave. Lake Charles, LA 70615

ADA Officer

Maegan Lewis

maegan.lewis@sowela.edu

(337) 421-6952 or (800) 256-0483

3850 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston Ave. Lake Charles, LA 70615

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