Frequently Asked Questions

What is discrimination?
Disparate or different treatment of an individual because someone believes you possess a legally recognized and protected characteristic, such as race, sex,
What if I am aware of harassment or discrimination?
The County strongly encourages people to report discrimination or harassment as soon as they become aware of it. All supervisors and managers are required to report discrimination or harassment. Notification to the County is essential to enforcing this policy. All employees and individuals are assured that they will not be penalized in any way for reporting harassment or discrimination.
How does the County deal with sexual harassment and how is it defined?
The County does not tolerate sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of inappropriate or predatory sexual behavior in which a person targets others. It is a broad spectrum of conduct, including harassment based on sex, gender identity or expression, sexual stereotype, and sexual orientation. Examples of unlawful and unacceptable behavior include, but are not limited to:
1. Unwanted sexual advances;
2. Offering a benefit (such as a streamlined process, approval, raise, promotion, or career advancement) in exchange for sexual favors or engagement in sexual activity, or threatening a detriment (such as termination, demotion, or denial of County benefits) for a person’s refusal or failure to exchange sexual favors or engage in sexual activity;
3. Visual conduct, such as leering or making sexual gestures, and displaying or posting sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons, or posters;
4. Verbal conduct, such as making sexual advances, propositions, requests, or comments;
5. Sending, soliciting, or posting sexually related messages, videos, or messages via e-mail, text, instant messaging, or social media;
6. Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal comments about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, and suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations;
7. Physical conduct, such as touching, groping, assaulting, or blocking movement;
8. Physical or verbal abuse concerning an individual’s gender, gender identity, or gender expression;
9. Verbal abuse concerning a person’s characteristics such as pitch of voice, facial hair, or the size or shape of a person's body, including remarks regarding gender stereotypes, such as commenting that a male is too feminine or a woman is too masculine.
It is the policy of the County to both prevent illegal harassment and create a workplace that is free from all forms of sexual harassment. The County will address sexual harassment quickly and through corrective actions, which may comprise discipline, up to and including termination.
Who is protected? 

All employees, applicants, customers, persons receiving services from, and persons doing business with the County may participate in, enjoy the benefits of, and be free from discrimination under any program or activity it administers without regard to:

  • Age (40 or older);
  • Ancestry;
  • Color;
  • Religious creed (including religious dress and grooming practices);
  • Denial of family and medical care leave;
  • Disability (mental and physical) including HIV and AIDS;
  • Marital status;
  • Medical condition (cancer and genetic characteristics);
  • Genetic information;
  • Military and veteran status;
  • National origin (including language use restrictions);
  • Race;
  • Sex (including pregnancy, child birth, breastfeeding and medical conditions related to pregnancy, child birth or breastfeeding);
  • Gender;
  • Gender identity and gender expression;
  • Sexual orientation; or,
  • Any other protected status in accordance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws (commonly referred to as “protected categories”).

What if I reported something or participated in an investigation and now am being treated poorly?

Monterey County prohibits retaliation against those who report, oppose, or participate in an investigation of alleged violations of the County’s Civil Rights policies, or against those who participate in protected activity. Participating in an investigation of alleged wrongdoing in the workplace may include:

  1. Filing a complaint internally with the Civil Rights Office, a federal, or state enforcement or administrative agency;
  2. Participating in or cooperating with the County, a federal, or state enforcement agency that is conducting an investigation of the County regarding alleged unlawful activity;
  3. Testifying as a party, witness, or accused regarding alleged unlawful activity;
  4. Associating with another employee who is engaged in any of these activities; and/or,
  5. Providing informal notice to the County regarding alleged unlawful activity.

If an employee feels that he or she is being retaliated against, the employee shall immediately contact their supervisor, manager, Department Head, Human Resources, or the Civil Rights Office. In addition, if an employee observes retaliation by another employee, supervisor, manager, or nonemployee, he or she should immediately report the incident to the individuals identified above.

Any employee determined to be responsible for violating this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Moreover, any employee, supervisor, or manager who condones or ignores potential violations of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Will you take my concern seriously? 

Yes. We will listen and we will take your concern seriously. Your case will be assigned to a qualified, unbiased investigator who may need to examine the facts and talk to witnesses. Our robust process will ensure that we thoroughly look into the matter and make a fair determination.

Is it confidential? 

To the best of our ability. Keep in mind that we cannot guarantee that all complaints will remain confidential after an investigation has commenced because our records may be subject to subpoena or may be disclosed if a complaint results in litigation. We will make all reasonable efforts to maintain the confidentiality of complaints and related records, to the extent allowable by law.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Yes. Anonymous complaints are accepted, though keep in mind that it is challenging to conduct a thorough investigation with an anonymous complaint.

What is the process like and how long will it take? 

The process, depending on how you choose to proceed, can be completed quickly or last up to a few months.

Can I participate in a meeting regarding County civil rights issues? 

Public meetings associated with the Civil Rights Office include:

-The Equal Opportunity Committee, comprised of two County Supervisors;

-The Equal Opportunity Advisory Commission, comprised of community members; and

-The Commission on Disabilities.
Can we meet to discuss my concern offsite or at another County office?
Absolutely. Just ask.
What are my options for resolving my complaint? 

You may call or meet with one of our team members informally. We will listen, explain our process, and offer recommendations for how you might want to move forward. From there, you can choose to:

- Work with us informally to resolve the complaint;

- File a complaint with our office that may lead to an investigation;

- Utilize the County’s Conflict Resolution program; or

- File a complaint with the state Department of Fair Housing or Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Keep in mind that, on some occasions, we are required by law to move forward with a formal process, regardless of your preference. The law requires that, under certain circumstances, we have an obligation to act immediately, which may include conducting an investigation.

I have a disability and need an accommodation. How does that process work? 
In short, you should fill out a Reasonable Accommodation form and work with your Departmental Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator. Your request should include the accommodation you are requesting, an explanation of the limitation for which the accommodation is needed, and a description of how the accommodation will allow you to perform the essential functions of your job. Learn more on the Reasonable Accomdation link.
I need an interpreter to access County services. How can I get an interpreter? 

All County departments should have procedures in place to provide you with quality interpretation services at no cost to you. If you have a concern, you can call our office.