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March 15, 2018
Court implements new policy for sexual harassment complaints against jurists

The Florida Supreme Court has updated its sexual harassment policy and procedures for complaints against justices and judges.

In a February 16 administrative order, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga enacted the new policy and ordered the chief judges of the district courts of appeal and the circuit courts to implement the new policy and procedures in their respective courts immediately.

Quote “The Florida Supreme Court and the entire state court system condemn any sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and advance the position that anyone in contact with the state courts system should feel empowered to bring any such inappropriate activity to the attention of all proper authorities, including and especially the Florida Supreme Court,” according to the new policy set out in AOSC1806. “Anyone authorized to investigate or pursue a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct hereunder must always maintain an open-door policy that fosters the free expression of any complaint. The chief justice or chief justice’s designee has the authority to take any administrative action necessary to protect the complainant from further sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and from retaliation related to a complaint hereunder.”

The order says it’s the policy of the Supreme Court to foster a workplace free of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.

“Sexual harassment occurs if there are unwelcome sexual advances; unwelcome requests for sexual favors; or unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature from or involving an employee’s supervisors, peers, subordinates or other persons in contact with an employee during the course of the conduct of the employee’s business when:

1. Submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or

2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual or as the basis for any official action; or

3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s work performance or creates a persistently intimidating and hostile environment, as that term is defined in state and federal law,” according to the policy.

The policy defines “sexual misconduct” as any behavior of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation.

“Sexual misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship, and is not necessarily actionable sexual harassment,” according to the policy that goes on to define how complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct should be reported and investigated.

[Revised: 03-20-2018]