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Westmoreland

Westmoreland County extends sexual harassment protections to gay, transgender workers

Rich Cholodofsky
| Thursday, July 26, 2018, 5:21 p.m.
Westmoreland County Courthouse in downtown Greensburg
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Westmoreland County Courthouse in downtown Greensburg

A revision of Westmoreland County’s sexual harassment policy approved Thursday will for the first time single out protections for those who are gay and transgendered, officials said.

The reworked policy is the latest revision of the 20-year-old policy that forbids any type of sexual harassment by county workers that carry penalties up to job terminations.

“It’s 2018,” Commissioner Gina Cerilli said when asked about the reasons for adding specific language to protect workers based on “genetic information.” Solicitor Melissa Guiddy said that language was designed to identify workers based on sexual orientation and sexual identity.

Commissioners said it was time those groups be specifically included in the harassment policy.

“We want to make sure everybody is treated with respect,” Commissioner Charles Anderson said.

Commissioners said the revision was not in response to the substantial number of sexual harassment lawsuits filed against the county in recent years. They said the changes are part of a county-wide effort to update policies and procedures. Additional policies are expected to be revised in the coming months, they said.

“These are things that constantly need to be updated,” Commissioner Ted Kopas said.

The revised policy forbids any type of sexual harassment that includes physical assaults, unwanted sexual advances, sexual discrimination and retaliation for complaints made under the policy.

In June, commissioners hired a local law firm to conduct sexual harassment seminars for county workers. Those sessions, expected to cost about $4,000, are scheduled to begin in August.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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