Harassment by Supervisors

Unfortunately, UFT members sometimes report that their supervisors have harassed them. Harassment can take many forms — sexual harassment, biased acts or remarks, public ridicule and acts of intimidation are some examples.

You do not have to — nor should you — tolerate harassment or acts of intimidation. A special complaint process was expanded in the 1990s to protect you from harassment by your supervisors. If you believe that you are the victim of supervisory harassment, tell your chapter leader immediately. You should also notify your district representative. It is imperative that you keep an anecdotal log indicating the place, time, date and any witnesses who were present during each incident. Keep your log as objective and factual as possible.

The union has an expedited special complaint process that addresses allegations of supervisor harassment. A special complaint is a complaint by an employee that harassing conduct or acts of intimidation are being directed against him or her in the workplace. Article 23 of the teachers' and corresponding articles in other chapters' contracts outline the special complaint procedure.

Your district representative will help you prepare the special complaint, which the UFT may file with the chancellor. You should think about what you want the resolution of the problem to be. Your resolution may be that you are treated respectfully in the workplace, or it may be a more specific remedy. A joint investigating committee consisting of one chancellor's representative and one union representative will investigate the complaint at the school level. The committee will come to your school to confer with you, the alleged harasser and any witnesses or other people involved in the matter.

If the complaint isn't resolved by the joint investigating committee, the union will determine if the matter has sufficient merit to request a hearing before the chancellor or chancellor's representative. If the complaint is not resolved by the chancellor, the union will review the matter to determine if it should be submitted for a fact-finding hearing before an arbitrator. Once the hearing has been held, the arbitrator must issue his or her recommendation within 72 hours.

It is important to remember that the purpose of the special complaint process is to resolve harassment or intimidation issues. The joint investigating committee doesn't have the authority to discipline the alleged harasser. The goal is to make sure the harassing behavior stops and doesn't happen again.  

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