203 – Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

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Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to caution all HCSO employees that any violation of the public trust involving sexual harassment or sexual misconduct will result in severe consequences including prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

Policy

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) shall train all employees regarding the potential for sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and criminal sexual misconduct within law enforcement and in the professional work environment, how to recognize them, and the requirements for reporting any violation to the appropriate authorities.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination and, as such, is expressly prohibited. (Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964)

If an employee perceives that he or she has been the victim of sexual harassment, it is no defense that the person doing the harassing did not intend to harass or that the harasser was merely “joking” or “teasing.”

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. The victim, as well as the harasser, may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  2. The harasser can be the victim’s Supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a coworker, or a non-employee.
  3. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  4. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  5. The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
  6. All allegations of sexual harassment shall be investigated by the Internal Affairs Division.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual contact of any nature while on duty is prohibited.

Sexual misconduct is prohibited and shall be disciplined up to and including termination.

Any contact for the purpose of sexual gratification of the subject with the intimate parts of a person while on duty is prohibited.

HCSO personnel shall not engage in sexual contact with another person who is in the custody of law enforcement (Texas Government Code, Section 501.011).

HCSO personnel shall not engage in sexual contact with any other deputy or civilian member of the HCSO while on duty.

Training: All HCSO personnel, including supervisors, will receive specific training about the elements of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct involving law enforcement officers or civilian employees. The training will also include all elements of this policy.

Reporting Requirements: Any HCSO employee who is made aware of any violation of this policy is required to report the violation to his or her supervisor.

The Supervisor will immediately contact the Internal Affairs Division, and an investigation will be initiated in accordance with established investigative policy.

The investigation will involve other HCSO investigative elements as may be deemed necessary and any forensic evidence will be protected and processed immediately.

The accused employee’s Supervisor will not attempt to resolve a complaint of this nature with the complainant. The Supervisor is required to make immediate contact with the Internal Affairs Division. [CALEA Standard 26.1.5]

Reporting Procedure

If an employee feels that he or she has been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct he or she is encouraged to bring the incident to the attention of any HCSO Supervisor.

Any HCSO Supervisor who becomes aware of or otherwise receives notification that an employee believes he or she is the victim of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct shall immediately contact the Internal Affairs Division and forward information to the Human Engagement and Resources Division (H.E.A.R.D) Director so that immediate action shall be taken.

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