Policy

Multnomah County’s policy is to prohibit workplace harassment, discrimination and/or retaliation on the basis of any federal, state or locally recognized protected class designations; or because of one’s involvement or participation in protected activities under applicable law.

Employees who violate these rules are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.

This process serves to help resolve complaints by employees or applicants who believe they have been adversely affected by unlawful or prohibited workplace discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation. At any time an employee may initiate a dialogue with the County’s Civil Rights Administrator or any manager or supervisor about their experience in the Multnomah County workplace and explore options to address any concerns. Employees should be aware that if specific information is shared about a situation or event that appears to involve unlawful or prohibited discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on a protected class, the Civil Rights Administrator or any other supervisor or manager is obligated to take action.

Definitions

Discrimination – Unequal or different treatment of an individual in any personnel action on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income, familial status, physical or mental disability or other protected status in accordance with applicable law.

Harassment – Verbal or physical conduct that is unwelcome and derogatory towards an employee because of their protected status, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact or other conduct or communication of a sexual nature.

Retaliation – Negative action taken towards a person because they initiated or participated in a complaint, formal or informal, including but not limited to any filing, investigation, proceeding or hearing, regardless of the outcome..

Complaint – Formal notice, written if possible, that a person believes they have experienced discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation in the workplace because of their protected status

Who May File a Complaint

Any employee or applicant for employment may file a complaint, ideally as close in time to the alleged event as is practicable, but generally no longer than six months (180 days) from the alleged event.

How to File a Complaint

Complaints can be formal or informal. Any employee or applicant who wishes to discuss a concern about a situation they believe may involve discrimination, harassment or retaliation can, at any time, contact the County’s Civil Rights Administrator, or the Department Director, any County Manager, Supervisor or Human Resources Manager. Upon such request, these managers can help an employee or applicant informally resolve an issue or concern as appropriate.

Employees or applicants may also file a formal complaint, whether or not they previously sought informal resolution. Formal complaints should be filed in writing, including email, or orally followed by a signed statement of affirmation, with the County’s Civil Rights Administrator, Department Director, any County Manager, Supervisor or Human Resources Manager. In making a formal complaint, the employee or applicant should identify the action, decision or conduct believed to be unlawful or prohibited and the reason(s) why this action, decision or conduct was taken in relation to the complainant’s protected status. 

What Happens After a Complaint is Filed

Step One: Interview and Inquiry

The Civil Rights Administrator or other manager receiving the complaint will discuss the details with the complainant to ensure clarity and explore options for informal resolution. The complainant has the option of pursuing an informal resolution or moving to a formal complaint. Informal resolution could include direct or mediated discussions between the complainant and the person alleged to be responsible for the action. If a complaint is resolved informally, a record of such resolution will be recorded and maintained by the Civil Rights Administrator in the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Step Two: Investigation

If the concerns cannot be informally resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction or the complainant elects to forego an informal resolution process, Multnomah County may conduct an investigation into the basis of the complaint, at its discretion. Information obtained during this process will not be discussed with others except as necessary to investigate and resolve the complaint. Multnomah County strives to conclude most investigations within 90 days of receiving a formal complaint, though timelines may be extended as necessary, or by mutual agreement between the investigatory staff and complainant. Note: investigatory staff should notify the complainant and all witnesses that evidence gathered during the investigation may be used in subsequent proceedings and that they could be called as witnesses to testify in those proceedings.

At any stage of the complaint process, both the complainant and individual(s) alleged to have engaged in discriminatory conduct have the right to be accompanied by another person for moral support or observation. The accompanying party cannot interfere with any inquiry, interview or investigation, but can assist in clarifying any questions for the individual they are supporting. Weingarten Rights will be afforded to individuals accused of wrongdoing who are represented by a union.

Step Three: Determination and Resolution

The investigatory staff will prepare a written summary of the investigation along with a finding that the complaint was either: (1) Substantiated, (2) Unsubstantiated, or (3) Unfounded. If substantiated, the report will include recommended corrective action. The investigator will notify the complainant, any staff alleged to have engaged in discriminatory conduct, the department director, County Attorney, HR Director, and Civil Rights Administrator of the outcome and will provide a copy of the summary report upon request. These individuals may then notify other county officials if necessary and as appropriate.

A complainant may withdraw a complaint at any time during the complaint process. If a complaint is withdrawn, the investigator will document the withdrawal and any reasons provided but may continue to investigate any underlying issues at the discretion of the HR Director.

Filing External Complaints

Multnomah County encourages individuals to use the internal complaint procedure for resolution of discrimination concerns. Individuals also have the right to file civil rights complaints with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or the State of Oregon’s Civil Rights Division. (2009 State Policy)

For further questions, please contact Multnomah County’s Civil Rights Administrator, Jonathan Ostar, 503-988-4201, jonathan.ostar@multco.us