Harassment & Discrimination FAQs
What types of complaints can I file through MyVoiceLA?
You are able to file a complaint regarding behavior by an employee that is unprofessional or disrespectful. Employees of the City of Los Angeles are expected to demonstrate sensitivity to and respect for individual and personal differences when working with other employees and the public. The nature of the offending behavior will determine which department will handle the complaint and investigation. The Office of Workplace Equity is responsible for investigating violations of the Equitable Workplace Standards (discrimination and harassment based on protected categories). Departmental HR will investigate and handle violations of the Civil Workplace Standards (Bullying, hazing, and other prohibited behaviors unrelated to protected categories). City of Los Angeles employees are expected to comply with Federal and State laws and regulations and City policies including applicable mayoral directives ensuring a discrimination- and harassment-free workplace. Employees must perform their duties in a manner that earns and maintains the trust and respect of their supervisors, other employees, and the public.
What is Discrimination?
Discrimination is the unequal treatment of one or more employees or applicants in any aspect of hiring or employment because of the employee(s’) actual or perceived Protected Category(ies).
What is Harassment?
Harassment is the unwelcome and offensive, threatening, or abusive treatment of one or more employees or applicants (by any individual, including both City employees and third parties) because of their actual or perceived Protected Categories.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature (by any individual, including both City employees and third parties) that interferes with work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. The offensive behavior need not be motivated by sexual desire.
What is Retaliation?
Any adverse employment action taken against an individual for: 1) making a complaint about or opposing discrimination and harassment; 2) for serving as a witness in a discrimination or harassment complaint investigation or proceeding, or 3) for otherwise opposing discrimination or harassment
What is Inequitable Conduct?
Inequitable Conduct is any inappropriate conduct based on a Protected Category or protected activity. Inequitable Conduct includes any instance of unwelcome conduct directed at one or more employees or applicants, that is committed by any City employee, because of the employee(s)’ or applicant(s) actual or perceived Protected Category(ies) or protected activity(ies).
Inequitable Conduct may be similar in nature to conduct defined as discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, and retaliation under this Policy, although to be considered Inequitable Conduct, it will be lesser in severity.
What is Bullying or Abusive Conduct?
Bullying is verbal, physical, electronic, or other behavior directed at one or more employees within a peer group or subordinates that demeans, intimidates, or humiliates or could reasonably be considered hostile, offensive, and unrelated to a legitimate business interest of the workplace.
What is Hazing?
Any action taken or any situation created to cause discomfort, embarrassment, or ridicule against a person (or group) and which risks emotional and/or physical harm to that person (or group), regardless of the person (or group's) willingness to participate in the action or situation.
What is the Office of Discrimination Complaint Resolution (ODCR)?
The Office of Discrimination Complaint Resolution was created to address discrimination complaints filed by City employees and applicants for employment with the City. ODCR staff work with employees and department managers to resolve issues of employment discrimination as quickly and efficiently as possible. We expanded the scope of its purpose to assess and determine whether behaviors are unprofessional, disrespectful, and a violation of the policies of the City of Los Angeles, rather than discrimination as defined in legal terms. However, with the launching of this website, the MyVoiceLA.org online reporting system, and the expansion of the Office of Workplace Equity (OWE), Equity Investigations Unit, the ODCR expects to wind down its work of addressing claims of unprofessional, disrespectful, discriminatory, and harassing behavior in the City of Los Angeles workplaces so that the OWE’s investigation process may be implemented.
What should I expect after I file a complaint?
1. You will be contacted within 10 days of submitting your complaint.
An intake specialist will contact you to make sure they understand your report and to make sure they have the information they need to assign it to the right person.
2. Your complaint will be assigned to the right place.
If the intake specialist determines that your complaint is an ‘Equity’ related issue (if the behavior you experienced was related to a protected category) it will be investigated by the Office of Workplace Equity. If the intake specialist determines that your complaint is related to a ‘Civil Workplace’ issue, your complaint will be referred to your department for investigation.
3. You should expect regular communication.
You will receive a written acknowledgment of the report you filed. You will be kept apprised of the status of the investigation into your allegations on a regular basis by the individual investigating the complaint.
4. You should expect that allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation will be fully and completely investigated.
All investigations will be handled with discretion, sensitivity, and due concern for the dignity of those involved. You will have a confidential* conference to discuss the allegation(s) you presented and requested remedy(ies) with the assigned investigator. All persons identified as potential witnesses will be contacted during the course of the investigation.
5. You should expect to help maintain the integrity of the investigation.
All persons contacted or interviewed during the investigation will be requested not to discuss the subject matter of the investigation (other than with representatives) in order to protect the privacy of involved parties, as well as the integrity of the investigation itself.
6. You should expect a timely resolution of complaints.
In this case ‘Timely’ means that the time spent on the investigation of your complaint should be related to how complicated it is, and that it remains a priority for the group investigating it. However, note that it may take a significant amount of time to fully investigate some complaints.
*Definitions of confidentiality:
- The Personnel Department cannot guarantee that they will not share details from complaints with key staff who need to know about them, but they will keep all information as confidential as possible.
- Other employees who are involved in the investigation will be told to keep any matters discussed to themselves, and if it is determined that individuals are sharing information that they should not, they may be disciplined.
- Confidentiality by the Investigator - Sensitive information learned in the course of the investigation is generally only discussed on a need to know basis.
- Confidentiality by Employees and Others - This is a confidential personnel matter for the employees involved. Consider the importance of the privacy of everyone involved. Parties should not attempt to influence the investigation by trying to persuade others to support a particular viewpoint, and should not tamper with or destroy any evidence relating to the issues in the investigation.
Reasonable Accommodations FAQs
What is a reasonable accommodation (RA)?
Reasonable accommodation is mandated by City policy and State and Federal law, specifically the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The term “reasonable accommodation” means a change in the work environment or in work processes that enables a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job, and enjoy equal employment opportunities. Click here for more information on the City’s Reasonable Accommodation Process.
Who is a “qualified individual with a disability”?
A “qualified individual with a disability” is:
- An individual who has a physical or mental impairment, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment, that limits one or more major life activities;
- An individual has all the necessary skills and abilities required to perform their job (i.e. meets bulletin requirements); and
- An individual who can perform the essential functions of their position with or without an accommodation.
Does the request for reasonable accommodation need to be in writing?
No. A request for reasonable accommodation (RA) can be made either in writing, verbal or another mode of communication. However, the supervisor may ask the employee to follow-up a verbal request in writing.
What is considered sufficient medical documentation?
Medical documentation is sufficient if it: (1) describes the nature, severity, and duration of the employee’s impairment, the activity or activities that the impairment limits, and the extent to which the impairments limit the employee’s ability to perform the activity or activities; and, (2) substantiates why the requested reasonable accommodation is needed.
Does the Department have to provide the employee’s preferred accommodation?
No. The employee is entitled to an “effective” accommodation. If more than one accommodation is deemed effective, the Department providing the accommodation has the ultimate discretion to choose between effective accommodations.
Is information regarding an accommodation request allowed to be disclosed to coworkers?
No. The supervisor and/or the Department may not disclose that an employee is receiving a reasonable accommodation. However, an employee with a disability may voluntarily choose to disclose to coworkers their disability and/or the fact that they are receiving a reasonable accommodation.