Sexual Harassment- Prevention and Elimination of Harassing Conduct

​Sexual Harassment is prohibited in any location that can be reasonably regarded as an extension of the Department's workplace, such as any DOI facility; any customer location, an off-site social business function, or any other non-DOI facility where DOI business is being conducted and discussed. The Department operates under a Policy on Equal Opportunity.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines “sexual harassment” as unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal and 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).)

Sexual harassment may take many forms - subtle and indirect, or blatant and overt.

  • 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 repeated actions or may even arise from a single incident if sufficiently egregious.

Sanctions for Policy Violations

All employees are subject to the Department's Zero Tolerance Policy of Discrimination and Harassment. Individuals who violate this policy may be subject to discipline ranging from a written warning up to and including discharge or other appropriate sanction.

Prompt Attention

Reports of sexual harassment to appropriate management officials 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 above. Where sexual harassment is found to have occurred, Bureau Managers will act to stop the harassment, act to prevent its recurrence, and discipline, where appropriate, those responsible.

Expedited Process

Employees may bring allegations of sexual harassment immediately to the attention of the local, regional or Bureau EEO Officer, an 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 to be completed within 10 days. Upon receipt of the inquiry report, if warranted, the senior manager must take immediate corrective action, including appropriate disciplinary action.

EEO Counseling/Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

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 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 process to facilitate early resolution. To locate an EEO Counselor, check your employee Bulletin Boards, the local area network, your local websites, or the Department's website at, or contact your Bureau EEO Officer for assistance.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

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 al sexual nature
  • Pin-ups, particularly those of scantily-clad individuals
  • Verbal or written 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.)

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