EEO Policy

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS’ COMMITMENT TO EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

The Board of Supervisors of the County of San Mateo takes this opportunity to express its philosophy that an essential component of excellence in County government is the diversity of its community. As a result of our long-standing commitment to equal employment opportunity, the County of San Mateo has become a model of diversity among public sector entities.

We recognize, welcome, and appreciate our diverse and multi-cultural workforce. Our diversity allows us to respond to the needs of our customers in a more effective and culturally sensitive manner and provides a reflection of the community we serve.

Through adoption and dissemination of this policy to employees, the Board of Supervisors commits the County and all employees to an inclusive, results-oriented, equal employment opportunity environment aimed at a diverse workforce free of illegal discrimination and harassment.

I.             Language Diversity

While the County recognizes English as the primary language of the workplace and encourages its mastery, it also acknowledges the fact that other languages are both necessary and welcome in providing the best service possible to the residents of our County. For employees for whom English is a second language, the County affirms the right to speak another language freely without threat of discrimination or reprisal. It is important, however, that the right to speak a language other than English is not used as a tool to exclude or demean co-workers.

II.           Discrimination

The Board of Supervisors hereby restates its commitment to ensuring that no employee or applicant shall be discriminated against based on sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, race, veteran status, religion, color, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, age, gender (including gender identity and gender expression), sexual orientation, use of family medical leave, genetic testing, or any other basis protected by federal or state law. This policy shall apply to all employment practices.

The County will take proactive measures toward eliminating artificial barriers to employment and achieving equal opportunity through its continued implementation and coordination of the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Plan, and through its review and evaluation of hiring and recruitment policies and procedures.

It is the policy of the Board of Supervisors that equal employment opportunity is consistent with the basic merit system principle that all persons are afforded equal access to positions in public service based on their knowledge, skills, and ability to do the job. Hiring will be made solely on the basis of job-related criteria, and all employment decisions will be made on the basis of merit, in conformity with these principles of equal opportunity.

The County considers violation of this policy, on the basis of any EEO-protected categories, to constitute misconduct that undermines the integrity of the employment relationship. Corrective action up to and including dismissal shall be taken against individuals who violate any provision of this policy.

III.          Harassment

It is the policy of the County of San Mateo to maintain an environment free from illegal harassment in the workplace. The County will not tolerate any action that illegally harasses, disrupts, or interferes with another’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment. The County of San Mateo encourages its employees and contractors to respect the differences of others. All are expected to act in a responsible, professional manner and to contribute to a productive work environment that is free from harassing or disruptive activity. All can expect to work in an environment free from harassing behaviors.

This policy unequivocally extends to all forms of harassment based on the criteria set forth in ‘Section II. Discrimination’. The County considers harassment on the basis of any of these categories to constitute misconduct that undermines the integrity of the employment relationship. Protection against harassment covers all employees, applicants and independent contractors (as defined by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act).  Corrective action, up to and including dismissal, shall be taken against individuals who violate this policy.

Harassment is severe or pervasive conduct that unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on any of the foregoing EEO-protected categories.

Harassing behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Verbal conduct, such as epithets, derogatory or insulting comments, taunting, heckling, slurs, jokes, stories, disparaging terms, or unwanted sexual advances or comments;
  • Physical conduct, such as impeding or blocking movement, gestures, physical interference with normal work movement, unwelcome touching, or assault;
  • Visual conduct, such as derogatory or sexually oriented posters, photographs, letters or other writings, e-mail, cartoons, graffiti, or drawings; or
  • Nonverbal conduct, such as staring, leering, winks, or other gestures

In addition to the above, sexual harassment shall include unwelcome, unwanted sexual advances or overtures, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical, or body language of a sexual nature. The actions above will be considered sexual harassment when:

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

IV.         Retaliation

Retaliation is defined as unlawful punishment or adverse action against an employee because that employee reported unlawful discriminatory conduct, participated in an investigation of discrimination, or engaged in other protected conduct. The most obvious types of retaliation include denial of promotion, refusal to hire, denial of job benefits, demotion, suspension and discharge. Other types of retaliation may include threats, reprimands, or negative evaluations. The source of retaliation may be from a manager or supervisor toward an employee, or from one employee or group of employees toward another employee.

The County does not tolerate any acts of retaliation. County employees are forbidden from retaliating against the efforts of any employee or applicant in reporting any violation of this Equal Employment Opportunity Policy. Corrective action, up to and including dismissal, shall be taken against individuals in violation of any provision of this policy.

V.          Reasonable Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of a disability. It is the policy of the County that no qualified applicant or employee with a disability shall be excluded from participation, be denied the benefits, or be subjected to discrimination because of their disability. The County is committed to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities if it does not result in an undue hardship on the operations of the County.  The ADA Manager in Human Resources can assist applicants, employees and departments in providing accommodations. The ADA Manager can be contacted at: (650) 363-4738.

VI.         Employee Responsibilities

All County employees (including managers and supervisors) have the responsibility to:

  • Understand and abide by the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Policy, and comply with its terms.
  • Respect the differences of others.
  • Contribute to a harassment-free environment by acting and behaving in an appropriate, respectful,
    and professional manner.
  • Immediately report any violations of this policy that they personally observe, or have knowledge of.
  • Cooperate completely in any investigation of violations of this policy.

VII.       Manager and Supervisor Responsibilities

All Managers and Supervisors have additional responsibility to be proactive and:

  • Foster a work environment free of discrimination and harassment.
  • Eliminate personal biases based on EEO protected classifications from employment decisions and practices.
  • Ensure employment, performance or conduct decisions and practices are based on a consistent set of criteria that is applied equally to all employees and not based on non-job-related factors.
  • Ensure that tradition and stereotypes do not create barriers to advancement of persons historically excluded from middle and upper management positions.
  • Set a positive example.
  • Keep consistent documentation on all employees.
  • Take each complaint concerning violations of this policy seriously. Failure to report an incident of harassing or discriminatory conduct is itself a violation of this policy.
  • Ensure that all employees are aware of this policy and the procedures for communicating a complaint.
  • Collaborate with the EEO Division in assisting in or conducting investigations of potential violations of this policy.
  • Take corrective action whenever an investigation results in a finding that this policy has been violated.
  • Make a referral to the County’s Employee Assistance Program where appropriate.
  • Prohibit retaliation against an employee or applicant who has complained of a violation of this policy, or who has participated in an investigation of complaints.
  • Maintain a record of both informal and formal complaints and resolutions.
  • Respect confidentiality to the greatest extent possible by only sharing information regarding complaints and investigations with those who have a “need to know.”

VIII.     Complaint Resolution Procedures

1.     County Complaint Procedures
Employees and applicants are encouraged to attempt resolution of complaints as quickly as possible at the lowest and least formal level. However, if deemed inappropriate in the judgment of the individual, then the individual is encouraged to pursue resolution at a higher level. The most important consideration should be resolution of the issue in a prompt and fair manner.
The County of San Mateo recognizes four (4) internal reporting procedures:

(A)           Resolution within the Department

An employee can discuss the complaint/issue and seek a remedy with the employee’s immediate supervisor. If the complaint/issue is not resolved, or the behavior of the employee’s supervisor is an issue, the employee is encouraged to pursue resolution through discussion with the next higher-level manager up to the department director.

(B) Filing an Internal Complaint

Any employee or applicant (“Complainant”) for employment may file an internal complaint with the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Manager in the Human Resources Department:

EEO Manager

HRD 121

455 County Center, 5th Floor

Redwood City, California, 94063-1663

(650) 363-4340

 

To be timely, a Complainant must submit or report the complaint no later than one year after the alleged discriminatory act/ violation took place or the Complainant should have first become aware of the alleged discriminatory act/ violation.

 

The EEO Manager, or designee, shall take all timely complaints seriously and investigate with due diligence. Confidentiality shall be maintained to the greatest extent possible, recognizing the rights of the complainant, the accused, and all third party witnesses. No Complainant shall be subjected to intimidation, coercion, or retaliation of any kind as a result of filing a complaint pursuant to this policy or as a result of being a witness in an investigation.

(C)           Filing a Grievance

Employees covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) have the right to file a grievance for violation of a provision contained in that MOU. Each MOU prescribes timeframes within which grievances must be filed to be considered timely and outlines the process.  The grievance must state the provision of the MOU that is alleged to have been violated.

(D)           Filing an Appeal

An employee or applicant can file for a hearing with the Civil Service Commission on items covered by the Civil Service Rules by submitting a written petition to the Human Resources Director identifying the section of the Civil Service Rules that is alleged to have been violated. If an employee files an appeal with the Commission on a specific item the employee is precluded from also filing a grievance or an internal County administrative discrimination complaint on that item.

2.     External Agencies

In addition to the above, or in place of the above procedure, employees and applicants have the option of filing a complaint with either, or both, the state and federal external compliance agencies. The address and phone numbers for each agency are listed below:

 

California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

State Headquarters

2218 Kausen Drive, Suite 100
Elk Grove, CA 95758
(800) 884-1684 or (800) 700-2320 (TTY)

www.dfeh.ca.gov

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

San Francisco District Office

450 Golden Gate Avenue
5 West, PO Box 36025
San Francisco, CA 94102-3661

(800) 669-4000

VP: (510) 735-8909
www.eeoc.gov

 

3.    Guidelines for Resolution of Discrimination or Harassment Issues

Guidelines and complaint resolution procedures have been developed for the purpose of providing assistance to employees, applicants for employment or services, and supervisors/managers, to help successfully resolve problems or concerns regarding possible harassment and/or discrimination, or otherwise related to the County’s EEO Policy. Any party may contact the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Manager for assistance and/or advice.

 

(A)   Employees

Employees seeking resolution of any alleged act of discrimination or harassment using County complaint procedures should:

 

  • Notify your supervisor, manager, human resources, or the County’s EEO Manager immediately after the alleged incident(s) of discrimination/harassment occurs.
  • Ask your supervisor, manager, human resources, or the EEO Manager to explain the different options available to you.
  • Provide documentation and names of witnesses.
  • Clearly state the alleged act(s) in question and any remedy sought.

(B)   Supervisors or Managers

Supervisors and managers are held to a higher level of responsibility, and have a duty to be aware of the day-to-day functioning of the unit, and the conduct of staff members. Supervisors and managers must take proactive measures to prevent or stop all forms of harassing behavior. When an employee chooses to approach a supervisor or manager with a concern of discrimination or harassment, the supervisor or manager should:

  • Listen objectively to the concerns and to the remedy being sought by the employee, allowing the employee to fully express these concerns.
  • Determine what the specific issues are, and gather factual information about the date, time, place, potential witnesses, and documentation or written records related to the concern.
  • Advise the employee of any limitations on confidentiality. Do not guarantee total confidentiality, as such confidentiality may not be appropriate or possible based on the particulars of the concern.
  • Assure employees that retaliation is prohibited.
  • Document the allegation, investigation conducted, and actions taken.
  • Contact the EEO Manager for guidance and advice, including the options that might be available to resolve the incident.
  • Handle all allegations in a confidential manner and share information only on a need-to-know basis.
  • Determine if a referral to the Employee Assistance program is necessary or if any other referral can be made.

(C)   Applicants for Employment

Any applicant(s) for employment who believe that they may have been discriminated against should contact the Human Resources Department.

(D)   Applicants for Services

Any applicant(s) for service who feel they have been discriminated against shall be provided with appropriate information by the department involved, regarding the procedure to pursue the concern(s) with the respective department.

(E)   Respondents

Once an allegation of discrimination has been filed, and an investigation is initiated with the potential for adverse findings, the respondent has the right to:

  • An investigation that is thorough, objective and timely.
  • Notification of the nature of the allegations.
  • Respond to and rebut the allegations.
  • Provide documents and witnesses to support the Respondent’s perspective.
  • Be advised that information will be handled as confidentially as possible, but complete confidentiality is not promised or guaranteed.
  • Once an allegation of discrimination has been filed, the respondent has a duty to:
  • Meet and cooperate with the investigator and answer all questions honestly and fully.
  • Be forthcoming with information and not be deceitful in any way.
  • Keep information confidential during the pendency of the investigation as needed to protect the integrity of the investigation or for other reasons necessary to conduct a fair and thorough review.
  • Not retaliate against individuals who participated in, or that are suspected of participating in, the investigation.

 

 

– See more at San Mateo County EEO Policy