U.S. Department of the Interior

 

Office of the Secretary
Washington, D.C.  20240

 

April 16, 2002


EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DIRECTIVE NO. 2002-16

To:                Bureau Equal Opportunity Officers

From:            E. Melodee Stith, Director, Office for Equal Opportunity

Subject:         Departmental Sexual Harassment Policy

Attached for your information and use is the Departmental Policy on Sexual Harassment. This Policy is being reissued to emphasize to employees their rights and responsibilities addressing and raising issues of sexual harassment. This policy will be posted in DOI facilities and will appear in an upcoming issue of the People, Land, and Water newspaper.

Also, attached is the DOI Plan for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment. Each Bureau should have an updated prevention plan. We are asking that you review the DOI Plan carefully to ensure that your prevention plan meets all of our requirements for preventing and correcting sexual harassment. Your policy and plan must be available to all employees, managers, supervisors, and EEO staffs, including EEO Counselors.

Should you have any questions, please contact this office on (202) 208-5693.
 

Attachments

 



Sexual Harassment Policy of the Department of the Interior

General Statement


The Department of the Interior (DOI or Department) will not tolerate sexual harassment. All persons who work at the DOI have a responsibility to help maintain a work environment that is free from sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment is prohibited in any location that can be reasonably regarded as an extension of the workplace, such as any customer location, an off-site social business function, or any other non-DOI facility where DOI business is being conducted and/or discussed.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines "sexual harassment" as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or sexually offensive work environment.  (Title 29, Code of Federal Regulations Part 1604.11(a)).

Determining what constitutes sexual harassment depends upon the specific facts and the context in which the conduct occurs. Sexual harassment may take many forms - subtle and indirect, or blatant and overt.

For example,

  • It may be conduct toward an individual of the opposite sex or the same sex.   
  • It may occur between peers or between individuals in a hierarchical relationship.

  • It may be aimed at coercing an individual to participate in an unwanted sexual relationship or it may have the effect of causing an individual to change behavior or work performance.  

  • It may consist of repeating actions or may even arise from a single incident if sufficiently egregious.

Sanctions for Policy Violations

All DOI employees are subject to this policy. Individuals who violate this policy may be subject to discipline ranging from a written warning up to and including discharge or other appropriate sanction. The DOI has a Zero Tolerance of discrimination and harassment policy and will apply the policy to all cases where discrimination and harassment are found.

Prompt Attention

Reports of sexual harassment are taken seriously and will be dealt with promptly. The specific action taken in any particular case depends on the nature and gravity of the conduct reported, and may include intervention, mediation, investigation, and the initiation of disciplinary processes as discussed more fully below. Where sexual harassment is found to have occurred, Bureau Managers will immediately act to stop the harassment, act to prevent its recurrence, and discipline where appropriate, those responsible.
 

Sexual Harassment Hotline

The Hotline is available for receipt of sexual harassment calls 24 hours a day. The incoming calls will be monitored by Office for Equal Opportunity staff and referred to the appropriate Bureau for prompt action. Actions taken by Bureaus in response to calls referred from the Hotline will be monitored regularly by the Office for Equal Opportunity staff and reported back to the Director, Office for Equal Opportunity. The Hotline number is: 1-800-827-8987.
 

Confidentiality

We recognize that confidentiality is important. The Bureau Equal Opportunity Officer and others responsible for implementing this policy will respect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals reporting or accused of sexual harassment to the extent reasonably possible. Examples of situations where confidentiality cannot be maintained include circumstances when the complaint is filed formally, when we are required by law to disclose information (such as in response to a legal process), and when disclosure is required by the Department's outweighing interest in protecting the rights of others.
 

Protection Against Reprisals

It is unlawful to retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint of sexual harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of a complaint for sexual harassment. Every employee has a right to report sexual harassment without fear of reprisal. Acts of reprisal against an individual should be reported immediately. Reprisal occurs if someone threatens an employee or his or her career because the employee filed a complaint or discussed an issue with a supervisor, the EEO Official, or other officials in the agency. The Department will not tolerate reprisal against an individual, who, in good faith, reports or provides information in an investigation about behavior that may violate this policy. Intentionally providing false information, however, maybe grounds for discipline.
 

Expedited Process

Employees may bring allegations of sexual harassment immediately to the attention of the local, regional or Bureau EEO Officer and/or full-time EEO counselor for priority consideration. The EEO professional must immediately meet/discuss the alleged incident with the employee and then bring the matter to the immediate attention of the highest appropriate management official at the site where the incident arose. The manager will order an immediate, expedited inquiry
into the facts of the incident. Upon receipt of the inquiry report, if warranted, the senior manager shall take immediate corrective action, including appropriate disciplinary action.
 

EEO Counseling and Alternate Dispute Resolution

The Expedited Process described above may take the place of the informal counseling period required by 29 CFR 1614.106. If the matter is not addressed through the expedited process, the employee wishing to file a complaint must bring the alleged sexual harassment to the attention of the EEO Counselor within 45 days of the matter, prior to filing a formal complaint of discrimination against the agency. During the expedited process or EEO Counseling, the Bureau may use their alternate dispute resolution (ADR) process to facilitate early resolution. If the employee contacts an EEO Counselor, he/she will have the option of going through EEO Counseling or ADR. To locate an EEO Counselor, check your employee Bulletin Boards, the local area network, or contact your Bureau EEO Officer for assistance.
 

Specific Examples

Any of these elements may constitute sexual harassment or discrimination. These examples are not meant to be all inclusive.

  • Physical Contact  

  • Squeezing a worker's shoulders or putting a hand around his or her waist  

  • Gestures such as, puckering one's lips suggestively or making obscene signs with one's fingers or hands.  

  • Telling off-color jokes  

  • Pictures of a sexual nature

  • Pin-ups, particularly those of scantily-clad individuals  

  • Comments of a sexual nature  

  • Terms of Endearment such as, calling a co-worker "honey," "dear," "sweetheart," or some similar expression. (The effect is the primary issue rather than intent. Even if the person "means nothing to you" or you have "used the term for years" you should be aware that such expressions are inappropriate.)  

  • Questionable Compliments, such as "Nice legs!", "You look hot in that outfit!" (Compliments like these can make individuals feel uncomfortable or worse. Even if the person who received the "compliment" is not disturbed by it, others may be).

Employee Responsibility

The Recipient

  • Consider using an informal method of resolution if the behavior was minor. Only use this method if you feel it will permanently stop the offensive behavior without reprisal and you feel the offender should be given a chance to change.  

  • Consider filing a formal complaint with the Bureau EEO Officer if the incident and behavior is serious, unacceptable, or repeated (especially after telling the offender to stop). Serious behaviors may include asking for sexual favors in return for a good performance appraisal.

The Offending Person

Stop the behavior immediately!

  • If you feel you may have sexually harassed someone, take immediate action to rectify the situation.  

  • Apologize. Ask another person or supervisor for advice and accompany you to the recipient, or intervene on your behalf.  

  • Talk to the recipient and discuss how you can communicate more effectively. 

  • If a formal complaint has been filed, seek legal counsel or assistance to understand your rights.

  • Avoid any appearance of reprisal whether direct or indirect.  

  • Seek help from someone that can assist you in getting on track, such as clergy or family.  

  • Take responsibility to see that sexual harassment is stopped and that there is no reprisal.

The Friend or Co-Worker

If you are approached by a friend or co-worker who feels he or she has been discriminated against or sexually harassed, take action.

  • Encourage the recipient to approach the offending person directly or use other informal resolution.

  • Offer to accompany the recipient to the offending person, the Bureau EO Officer or senior manager to file a formal complaint.  

  • Take responsibility to see that sexual harassment is stopped and there is no reprisal.

The Supervisor

If you observe or are approached about discrimination or sexual harassment, take action.

  • Advise the person who was offended of his or her right to seek help through the Bureau EO Officer.  

  • Advise the offending person to stop immediately.

  • Act promptly and take corrective action if you supervise the offending individual.  

  • Warn all parties immediately against behavior which may look like direct or indirect reprisal.  

  • Take responsibility to see that sexual harassment is stopped and that there is no reprisal.


Where to File a Complaint

You may file a formal complaint concerning sexual harassment or discrimination at any of the following offices:

  • Secretary of the Interior   
  • Director, Office for Equal Opportunity, Office of the Secretary   

  • Bureau Equal Opportunity Officer

 




 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

PLAN FOR THE PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Program/Project:  Policy and Program Development Addressing Sexual Harassment Awareness and Prevention

Objective:    To ensure that all employees in the Department are aware of the Department's Policy prohibiting Sexual Harassment.

ACTION ITEMS
RESPONSIBLE
ORGANIZATION
TARGET 
DATES
1.  Revise and distribute the policy statement to all employees reaffirming the Departmental Policy prohibiting sexual  harassment.

2.  Revise and publish the action plan for the prevention of sexual harassment.

3.  Revise and distribute the policy requiring sexual harassment  refresher training for all managers and supervisors.

4.  Revise and distribute brochures on sexual harassment.   

OEO

OEO


OEO


OEO

5/30/02

4/30/02

5/30/02

6/30/02 


 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

PLAN FOR THE PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Program/Project:  Training on Sexual Harassment Prevention  and Awareness and the Rights and Responsibilities of Employees

Objective:  To meet EEO training needs & incorporate special training on sexual harassment  prevention in EEO training

ACTION ITEMS
RESPONSIBLE 
ORGANIZATION
TARGET
DATES
1.  Assess the types of EEO training managers and supervisors 
     are receiving to determine if adequate training is being 
     provided on the prevention of sexual harassment.

2.  Analyze training needs, and develop training methodology to
     ensure prevention is included.

3.  Develop a training module for EEO Counselors on identifying and counseling employees alleging sexual harassment, and for determining appropriate informal resolutions and other corrective actions. Post on employee bulletin boards,  websites, etc.

OEO
 
 

OEO
 

OEO

 

7/30/02 
 
 

8/30/02
 

9/30/02

 


DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

PLAN FOR THE PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Program/Project:   EEO Counseling and Complaints Tracking

Objectives:   To collect data and conduct trend analysis  on allegations of sexual harassment and to take corrective action where necessary

ACTION ITEM
RESPONSIBLE 
ORGANIZATION
TARGET 
DATES
1.  Review Bureau and Office reporting on complaints related to      counseling of sexual harassment allegations. 

2.  Conduct a trend analysis regarding allegations of sexual 
     harassment and the handling of such.

3.  Based on the trend analysis, develop recommendations for
     prevention initiatives and improving processing efforts. 


OEO 
 

OEO
 

OEO 

5/30/02 
 

6/30/02
 

7/30/02


 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

PLAN FOR THE PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Program/Projects:  Corrective Action

Objective:  To ensure that immediate corrective and  curative action is taken when sexual harassment is found

ACTION ITEMS
RESPONSIBLE 
ORGANIZATION 
TARGET
DATES
1.  Order full corrective action in any complaint where there is a finding of sexual harassment including effectuation of Zero Tolerance Policy.

2.  Monitor, track and assess Bureau actions relevant to the Zero Tolerance Policy requiring that appropriate action,  including disciplinary action, be taken when sexual harassment is found.

3.  Require Bureaus to conduct post-complaint activity to ensure that sexual harassment has not recurred. 

Departmental, Bureau and Office Heads 
 

OEO
 

OEO, Bureau EO Officers
As necessary 


FY 2002


FY 2002

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

PLAN FOR THE PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Program/Projects:   Accountability
ACTION ITEMS
RESPONSIBLE 
ORGANIZATION
TARGET 
DATES
1.  Discuss finding of sexual harassment in training sessions 
     with managers, and in technical sessions with EO 
     Professionals.

2.  Consider all findings of sexual harassment, management 
     actions, and disciplinary actions when reviewing and 
     approving nominations for awards.
 

OEO 
 
 

OEO


 

Ongoing 
 

 
As Necessary

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

PLAN FOR THE PREVENTION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Program/Project:    Other initiatives designed to prevent sexual harassment

Objective:  To ensure that proactive measures are taken  on a continuous basis to maintain awareness of the prohibition and prevention of sexual  harassment in the workplace

ACTION ITEMS
RESPONSIBLE
ORGANIZATION
TARGET 
DATES
1.  Revise computer training disks on sexual harassment.

2.  Publicize articles in the DOI, People, Land and Water on sexual harassment.

3.  Publicize Sexual Harassment Hotline.

EO 

OEO 


OEO

 

9/1/02 

As Necessary


6/30/02