The Texas Water Utilities Association (TWUA) is committed to providing a safe environment for all its employees, members, instructors, vendors, contractors, visitors, and guests. One which is free from discrimination (harassment) at work or at any TWUA affiliated or sanctioned function.

The Texas Water Utilities Association (TWUA) will continue to operate on a Zero Tolerance Policy for any substantiated form of sexual harassment, hostile work environment, or racial discrimination, in the office setting or any TWUA affiliated and sanctioned function.

The Texas Water Utilities Association (TWUA) will treat all incidents seriously and promptly investigate all allegations of Sexual Harassment or events that contribute to or facilitates a Hostile Work Environment. Specifically, any activity which is determined hostile, intimidating, humiliating, or degrading for the recipient(s), employees, members, instructors, vendors, contractors, visitors, and guests - will not be condoned or tolerated.

Any staff member or representative of The Texas Water Utilities Association (TWUA) found to have sexually harassed another or participated in the unwelcomed activity, advances, either verbally, or physically, will face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment and prohibited attendance at any future TWUA affiliated and sanctioned function (until which time that person can document they have received counseling and training regarding acceptable behavior). Guests and Attendees will be held to the same standard(s).

Sexual harassment can involve one or more incidents or participants. And actions constituting harassment may be physical, verbal and non-verbal. Examples of conduct or behavior which constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

Physical conduct

  • Unwelcome physical contact including patting, pinching, stroking, kissing, hugging, fondling, or inappropriate touching.
  • Physical violence, including sexual assault.
  • Physical contact, e.g., touching, pinching.
  • The use of job-related threats or rewards for soliciting sexual favors.

Verbal conduct

  • Comments related to a worker’s appearance, age, private life, etc.
  • Sexual comments, stories, gestures, and jokes.
  • Sexual Advances.
  • Repeated and unwanted social invitations for dates or physical intimacy.
  • Insults based on the sex of the worker.
  • Condescending or paternalistic remarks.
  • Sending sexually explicit messages (by phone or by email).

Non-verbal conduct

  • Display of sexually explicit or suggestive material.
  • Sexually-suggestive gestures.
  • Whistling.
  • Learing.
  • Displaying or viewing suggestive images on electronic devices.

Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment, regardless of their sex and of the sex of the harasser. TWUA recognizes that sexual harassment may also occur between people of the same sex. What matters is the conduct (sexual or hostility) is unwanted and unwelcome by the person against whom the conduct is directed.

All sexual harassment is prohibited whether it takes place within Texas Water Utilities – TWUA premises or outside, including social events, business trips, training sessions, meetings, or conferences sponsored by or affiliated with TWUA.

Anyone who is subject to sexual harassment should, if possible, inform the alleged harasser that the conduct is unwanted and unwelcome. TWUA recognizes that sexual harassment may occur in unequal relationships (i.e., between a supervisor and his/her employee) and that it may not be possible for the victim to inform the alleged harasser.

If a victim cannot directly approach an alleged harasser, he/she can approach one of the designated TWUA staff members responsible for receiving complaints of sexual harassment. This person could be another supervisor, a member of the association, an officer in a region or district, the TWUA office manager, or executive director, or as designated by the TWUA Management Committee.

When a designated person receives a complaint of sexual harassment, he/she will:

  • immediately record the dates, times and facts of the incident(s).
  • as soon as possible obtain a written statement from both parties.
  • as soon as possible obtain a written statement from any witnesses.
  • ascertain the views of the victim as to what outcome he/she wants for resolution.
  • ensure that the victim understands the company’s procedures for dealing with the complaint.
  • discuss and agree on the next steps: either informal or formal complaint, on the understanding that choosing to resolve the matter informally does not preclude the victim from pursuing a formal complaint if he/she is not satisfied with the outcome.
  • keep a confidential record of all discussions.
  • respect the choice of the victim.

Formal complaints mechanism.
If the victim wants to make a formal complaint or if the informal complaint mechanism has not led to a satisfactory outcome for the victim, the formal complaint mechanism should be used to resolve the matter.
The designated person who initially received the complaint will refer the matter to a senior human resources manager to instigate a formal investigation. The senior human resources manager may deal with the matter him/herself, refer the matter to an internal or external investigator or refer it to a committee of three others in accordance with this policy.

The person carrying out the investigation will:

  • interview the victim and the alleged harasser separately.
  • interview other relevant third parties separately.
  • decide whether or not the incident(s) of sexual harassment took place.
  • produce a report detailing the investigations, findings and any recommendations.
  • if the harassment took place, decide what the appropriate remedy for the victim is, in consultation with the victim (i.e., an apology, a change to working arrangements, a promotion if the victim was demoted as a result of the harassment, training for the harasser, discipline, suspension, dismissal).
  • follow up to ensure that the recommendations are implemented, that the behavior has stopped and that the victim is satisfied with the outcome.
  • if it cannot determine that the harassment took place, he/she may still make recommendations to ensure proper functioning of the workplace.
  • keep a record of all actions taken.
  • ensure that all records concerning the matter are kept confidential.
  • ensure that the process is done as quickly as possible and in any event within three (3) business days of the complaint being made.

Outside complaints mechanisms.
A person who feels they have been subject to sexual harassment or hostile work environment can also make a complaint outside of the company. They can contact the TWUA Central Office / Office Manager or Executive Director.

Sanctions and disciplinary measures
Anyone who has been found to have sexually harassed another person under the terms of this policy is liable to any of the following sanctions:

  • verbal or written warning.
  • adverse performance evaluation.
  • reduction in wages.
  • transfer.
  • demotion.
  • suspension.
  • dismissal.
  • banning from future TWUA affiliated or sponsored events.

The nature of the sanctions will depend on the gravity and extent of the harassment. Suitable deterrent sanctions will be applied to ensure that incidents of sexual harassment or hostile work environment are not treated as trivial.