ANNAPOLIS -- A woman wanted to know where she could turn to stop her boss from harassing her. The hot line counselor gave her advice and referred her to several agencies that help victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Now, the counselor can also pass on the telephone number of the District Court in Annapolis. The city's new law makes sexual harassment a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Employees in Annapolis who lose promotions or jobs by refusing to submit to sexual advances can call the police, or simply go to the courthouse and swear out a criminal complaint. If a District Court commissioner finds probable cause for the case, the employer will be summoned to trial.
The burden of proof is on the victim, said Alderman Carl O. Snowden, who introduced the landmark bill that was overwhelmingly approved Monday night by the City Council and took effect yesterday.
"In some instances, it's going to be easy. If there were witnesses who saw the behavior, it will be clear," said Mr. Snowden, a Democrat who represents the city's 5th Ward. "Where it's going to be difficult is when there's one person's word against the other."
Yesterday, those charged with enforcing the law were scrambling to get copies of it.
City Attorney Jonathan Hodgson called the District Court commissioners to arrange a training workshop on the law. Meanwhile, Clayton Greene Jr., who as administrative judge for the District Court oversees the 12 commissioners in Anne Arundel County, said he planned to call to get a copy of the bill.