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Civility, Harassment, and Bullying Policy

Resolution 2019-59 | Approved December 23, 2019 by Library Board of Trustees, Effective January 1, 2020

Code of General Civility

The Library is committed to being a center of learning and information resources for a diverse and inclusive community. The Library will maintain the highest standards of ethical integrity. The Library acknowledges that respect for self and others is the foundation of excellent customer service and a healthy learning environment. As such, the Library strives to cultivate an environment of civility, mutual respect and responsibility. While working in or visiting the Library, all persons have a right to a safe, civil environment.

Sexual Harassment and Other Discriminatory Harassment

The Stark County District Library is committed to maintaining an environment in which all persons who work at the Library, visit it, or who participate in Library programs and activities can work together in an atmosphere free of unlawful harassment and discrimination. In keeping with this commitment, the Library will not tolerate any form of unlawful harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, citizenship, genetic information, military or veteran status or other class protected by applicable law is strictly forbidden and will not be tolerated.

Sexual harassment involves unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in which:

  1. submission to the conduct is an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment;
  2. submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an employment decision; or
  3. the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Examples include, but are not limited to: offensive sexual flirtations, advances or propositions; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; graphic or degrading verbal comments about an individual or an individual’s appearance; the display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures; or any other sexually offensive or abusive physical contact or gestures. Such conduct, regardless of who commits it, is prohibited. Anyone found to have engaged in sexual harassment will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Other unlawful harassment includes intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is based on an individual’s race, color, creed, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, ethnic origin, genetic information, military or veteran status and has the effect of:

  1. unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance;
  2. creating an abusive or hostile work environment; or
  3. otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s employment opportunities.

Examples of unlawful harassment include, but are not limited to: verbal abuse, the circulation of written material that demeans or exhibits hostility or dislike toward an individual or group, or inappropriate jokes or slurs, where such behavior is based on the foregoing protected classes (e.g. race, gender, etc.). Such conduct likewise is prohibited and will subject the person engaging in it to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Since there may be some confusion over what actually constitutes sexual or other unlawful harassment, any conduct of this type which offends you or makes you feel uncomfortable should be reported. Keep in mind that the Library cannot address problems it does not know about. So, if you think you are a victim of or witness to harassment, or are being retaliated against in violation of this policy, you must notify the Library.

Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment Reporting Procedures

Everyone at the Stark County District Library is expected to avoid engaging in any behavior or conduct that could be interpreted as unlawful harassment or discrimination. All employees should also understand the importance of informing an individual whenever that individual’s behavior is unwelcome, offensive, in poor taste, or inappropriate.

The Library cannot remedy a discrimination or harassment situation if it does not know of the situation. Therefore, it is imperative that if an employee feels that he or she has experienced or witnessed discrimination or harassment, he or she must promptly notify his/her immediate supervisor who will take steps to ensure that the report is properly investigated. Any employee who feels that he or she is being harassed but is uncomfortable notifying his/her supervisor should file his/her complaint with the Human Resources Director. Security and an immediate supervisor should be called immediately if a Library patron reports harassment.

Reports of harassment or discrimination should be made in writing and should specifically describe the acts of harassment or discrimination, including the identity of the alleged wrongdoer and any witnesses, the time and location of the harassment or discrimination, and the working relationship between the alleged wrongdoer and the complainant.

The policy of the Stark County District Library is to investigate promptly and discreetly to the fullest extent practicable. The investigator(s) will summarize his or her findings in a written report. If an investigation confirms that a violation of this policy has occurred, then prompt and effective remedial action will be taken. Such remedial action may include disciplinary measures up to and including termination for a wrongdoer. The Library will advise the accuser and the alleged wrongdoer of the outcome of the investigation. Details of the actions taken to maintain a harassment-free environment may or may not be divulged.

The Library encourages reporting of all incidents of sexual or other unlawful harassment or discrimination, regardless of who the offender may be, in accordance with the methods set forth in this policy. Although the Library’s ability to discipline a non-employee who engages in such conduct may be limited, the Library will strive to take available and appropriate remedial action against the non-employee. This action may include, for example, barring a patron from the premises for a specific period of time or terminating business with a vendor.

The Stark County District Library will not, and legally cannot, retaliate against an individual who reports unlawful harassment or retaliate against any participant in an investigation of harassment or discrimination, nor will the Library tolerate acts of retaliation by any employee or supervisor.

Anti-Bullying Policy

The safety and security of all employees is of primary importance to the Library. Bullying in all of its various forms against employees or other individuals working with or visiting the Library will not be tolerated. The Library defines “bullying” as follows:

“Any actual or threatened physical, verbal or nonverbal abuse occurring either inside or outside of the Library’s facilities that can create an internal atmosphere where the Library believes the reasonable person would feel intimidated or threatened to the point that it impairs his/her ability to function.”

Bullying may include a range of explicit and even subtle behaviors. Bullying may occur in person, or electronically or digitally, which is often referred to as “cyber-bullying.” Examples of such unwanted behavior would include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Behavior that constitutes an assault, which consists of a communication or action perceived by the reasonable person to be a potential threat to harm another person or in any way endangers the safety of another;
  • Behavior that includes unwanted physical contact or the threat of unwanted physical contact such as patting, pinching, or brushing against someone else’s body that would result in an atmosphere of intimidation for the reasonable person;
  • Behavior that a reasonable person would perceive as being obsessive (i.e., intensely focused on a grudge, grievance, or romantic interest in another person and likely to result in harm or threats of harm to another person or property);
  • Behavior that a reasonable person would perceive as intimidating, menacing, or provoking others to violence;
  • Behavior that involves the carrying, concealing or displaying weapons, destroying property, or throwing objects in a manner reasonably perceived to be threatening;
  • Unwanted sexual propositions, innuendo, or suggestive comments that would result in an atmosphere of intimidation for the reasonable person;
  • “Leering” or “glaring” at another person that would result in an atmosphere of intimidation for the reasonable person;
  • Repeated and unwanted “kidding” or “teasing,” “practical jokes,” jokes directed at an individual that would result in an atmosphere of intimidation for the reasonable person;
  • The use of foul or obscene language, gestures, or printed or visual material.

Some specific day-to-day examples of bullying may include:

  • Spreading malicious rumors, gossip, or innuendo that is not true;
  • Excluding or isolating someone socially;
  • Intimidating a person;
  • Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work;
  • Physically abusing or threatening to abuse another person;
  • Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information;
  • Making jokes by spoken word, text or e-mail that are ‘obviously offensive’;
  • Yelling or using profanity;
  • Belittling another person’s opinion;
  • Unwanted tampering with someone’s personal belongings or work equipment.

All Library employees are responsible for notifying their supervisor and/or a Library official of any bullying, threats or abusive treatment that he or she witness or receive. Complaints of bullying shall be addressed in the same manner outlined above in the Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment Reporting Procedures policy. The Library will take appropriate remedial and disciplinary action whenever it determines that this policy has been violated.

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