CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NBC Charlotte has learned the Queen City is in the process of changing its sexual harassment policy for city employees.
It comes after our Defenders team began asking questions about the policy which hasn’t been updated since 2010. City officials said a new version will be presented to the city council.
Nationwide, several high-profile men have fallen from grace due to sexual harassment and assault claims. In Charlotte, female leaders have climbed to the top of local government, including human resources director Sheila Simpson, who is crafting the updated sexual harassment policy.
“Doing the groundwork to scrub that policy, to see where our strengths are where our weaknesses are,” said city council member Braxton Winston.
Our Defenders team began asking questions about the 2010 policy a few months ago. Winston says he “absolutely” supports change.
“Especially being the government we have, where we have women that play very significant roles in our leadership, whether elected or appointed, that we are fixing the policy,” Winston told NBC Charlotte.
Our Defenders investigation highlighted specific sections of the policy. For example, an employee gets three chances after displaying sexually suggestive material before being fired.
“(It’s) outdated,” said local attorney Meg Maloney, who handles sexual harassment cases.
NBC Charlotte went line by line through the policy with Maloney. In one section, the policy said an employee rubbing themselves or against another person could keep their job, at least on the first offense. Yet, anyone reporting harassment could be suspended if it’s shown to misrepresent or tarnish someone else’s reputation.
“What they’ve done is try to intimidate people from making complaints,” Maloney previously told NBC Charlotte.
“Some of that is pretty ridiculous,” Winston said.
The city of Charlotte gave this statement: “Our employees are the heart of this organization, and maintaining a culture that ensures their wellbeing is essential to our success. We are strengthening the city’s current harassment policy to continue providing a workplace where our employees are valued, trusted and respected. This is more than just a policy. It’s the right thing to do.”
The updated sexual harassment policy will go to the city council. No timeline has been set yet, but Winston said he's looking forward to that day.
“One Charlotte, a united Charlotte, where we exist under one crown,” said Winston.