Allegations cause a closer look at harassment policies

Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County responded to a lawsuit filed against them by Savanah Nabors, a former Sheriff’s Office employee, yesterday. In the lawsuit, Nabors claims she tried to report her alleged harassment through proper channels, but it eventually ended up being told to Sheriff Will Lewis, which is the proper chain of command.

“You don’t ever want the employee that feels they’ve been victimized to only think that that they’re only avenue is to go to the supervisor who may be the one harassing, so they need to have multiple options and know that,” Lee Yarborough, the president of Propel HR, said.

County officials say their resources are open to any county employee, even ones under elected officials’ offices except for the sheriff’s office. Officials say that’s because the sheriff’s office has their own policies.

The Greenville County harassment policy states:

5.8 Harassment 5.8.1 It is the policy of the County to prohibit harassment because of an employee’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, or similar distinctions. In addition, it is our policy to provide a working environment in which employees are free from discomfort or pressure resulting from jokes, ridicule, slurs, threats and harassment, either relating to such distinctions or simply resulting from a lack of consideration for others. If an employee feels that this policy has been violated by anyone with whom the employee comes in contact on the job, regardless of whether it is by a co- worker, a supervisor, or member of the general public, the employee must report the incident(s). There are multiple ways that the employee can do this: (a) Report the incident to their supervisor or to a higher level in their “chain of command.” Complaints against the Administrator, County Attorney, and Clerk to Council should be made to the Chairperson of County Council; or (b) Report the incident to the Director of Human Resources or Employee Relations Coordinator.

County officials say they also explain the grievance process to people at their new hire orientation.

“It’s one thing to have a policy written, but it’s another thing to train and to make sure the employees all understand the policies and understand how they can file a complaint and the expectations in their workplace,” Yarborough said.

Yarborough said she believes the county has a good policy; however, she says it wouldn’t hurt for any employer to have an outside option.

“An employee that may be victimized may be able to call someone who they don’t eat lunch with or they don’t take a break with, and they’re able to really tell what happened,” Yarborough said.

Yarborough says the attention these allegations are getting could force people to reexamine HR policies and consider hotlines.