A workplace free of discrimination, harassment, and inappropriate conduct

By Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer

Three years ago I launched King County’s Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment and Inappropriate Conduct Policy as part of our efforts to provide a workplace culture where every employee is treated with respect and valued for their unique skills, experiences, and perspectives.

Our policy is clear: any type of harassment or discrimination at King County is prohibited. The policy clearly sets out the conduct and behaviors that will not be tolerated, as well as how to report incidents, all employees’ responsibilities, and the consequences of non-compliance.

Since launching the policy in 2018, we have listened to feedback and found that there were areas that could use better clarity and updating. The first, most obvious change is that we have updated the title to Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment & Inappropriate Conduct Policy & Reporting Procedures to make it clear that the procedures in the policy are for reporting rather than investigation.

Other changes include:

  • Making clear that the county will determine the appropriate response to complaints, which may or may not include a formal investigation
  • Making clear that inappropriate conduct must be based on a protected class
  • Adding domestic violence victimization to the protected status list
  • Adding deliberately misgendering someone to the examples of harassment
  • Making clear that inappropriate conduct includes conduct not rising to the level of illegal sexual harassment
  • Adding that an employee can report a violation either verbally or in writing.

In addition, we have added language to the supervisors and managers responsibilities to lay out their responsibility to:

  • Use good judgment in determining appropriate corrective actions and that if unsure, they should consult with their HR Manager, and
  • Actively monitor the workplace to ensure compliance with this policy, and that failure to do so may result in discipline. 

You can review the updated policy here. We will soon launch required training for all employees in the Executive Branch, including employees in Elections, Assessments, and the Sheriff’s Office, which will include a short video and an online course. The training will help to ensure that we all understand the updated policy, and our expectations and responsibilities in the workplace.

Thank you for helping us create a safe, supportive, and respectful workplace culture where every employee can thrive.