Sexual harassment occurs when employment decisions affecting an employee, such as hiring, firing, promotions, awards, transfers or disciplinary actions, result from submission to or rejection of unwelcome sexual conduct. Sexual harassment can also be any activity which creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment for members of one sex, whether such activity is carried out by a supervisor or by a co-worker. This could include such workplace conduct as displaying "pinup" calendars or sexually demeaning pictures, telling sexually oriented jokes, making sexually offensive remarks, engaging in unwanted sexual teasing, subjecting another employee to pressure for dates, sexual advances, or unwelcome touching.
Attorney General's Memo, Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The Department of Justice's policy is to maintain a working environment which is free from any form of harassment related to a person's race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, age, disability (physical or mental), genetic information, status as a parent, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, or any other non-merit factor. This policy prohibits sexual harassment of employees because it, like other forms of harassment, interferes with a productive working environment, interjects irrelevant considerations into personnel decisions, and generally demeans the victims of harassment. Moreover, sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
DOJ Sexual Orientation Complaint Procedures
If you think you are being sexually harassed on the job:
- Know your rights.
- Tell the harasser that the behavior is unwelcome and must cease immediately.
- Report such behavior immediately to the supervisor, or a higher level official.
- Seek support from a friend or colleague.
- Keep a written record, documenting as precisely as possible what happened, when it took place, the names of witnesses, your response, and any other information that may be helpful later.
- Find out whether other employees have also been harassed and whether they could offer corroborating testimony.
- Seek advice on how to deal with the situation from your Office of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), the Office of Professional Responsibility, or the Office of the Inspector General.
- Learn about the (EEO) Complaint process.
- Discuss options with an EEO Counselor or your representative.
- File a complaint.
- Be sure that your own conduct sets an example, and is not such that you may be vulnerable to claims of sexual harassment.
- Take affirmative steps to ensure that your employees are not involved in harassment.
- Communicate this policy on harassment to all employees.
- Make it clear that claims of harassment will be investigated promptly and thoroughly and that appropriate discipline will follow.
- Assure employees that you will treat complaints seriously and fairly.