Anti-Harassment Resource Page for SOL Employees

The Office of the Solicitor (SOL) is committed to providing its employees with a safe and civil workplace. The SOL management is committed to responding promptly to allegations of harassing conduct, conducting appropriate investigations or inquiries into such allegations, and holding individuals accountable when allegations are substantiated.

This site has been designed to educate SOL employees, encourage bystander intervention, and provide resources to individuals who have experienced, witnessed, or received a report of harassing conduct.

What Types of Harassing Behavior Constitute a Violation of DOI Personnel Bulletin 18-01

As described in Section 5.A. of DOI Personnel Bulletin 18-01, the conduct prohibited by the Department includes, but is broader than, the legal definitions of harassment and sexual harassment. Harassing conduct prohibited by Personnel Bulletin 18-01 is defined as unwelcome conduct, verbal or physical, including intimidation, ridicule, insult, comments, or physical conduct, that is based on an individual’s protected status or protected activities under this policy, when:

  • the behavior can reasonably be considered to adversely affect the work environment; or
  • an employment decision affecting the employee is based upon the employee’s acceptance or rejection of such conduct.

Protected status is defined as an individual’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, family medical history (including genetic information), status as a parent, marital status, or political affiliation. Protected activities under this policy are defined in Section 5.B. of DOI Personnel Bulletin 18-01.

Although not every instance of inappropriate behavior may meet the legal definition of harassment, such behavior undermines morale and the Department's mission. Accordingly, the misconduct prohibited by Personnel Bulletin 18-01 is broader than the definition of illegal harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to ensure that appropriate officials are notified of, and can promptly correct, harassing conduct. Harassment becomes illegal when enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. All harassing conduct, as defined above, is a violation of Personnel Bulletin 18-01.

Employees are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal, for engaging in harassing conduct while in the workplace or in any work-related situation, including while on official travel. Off-duty misconduct may subject the employee to potential discipline if the misconduct is likely to have an adverse effect on the Department (e.g., harassing a co-worker, visitor, contractor, or volunteer during off-duty hours). Harassing conduct can occur in person, through phone calls or in writing, or through the use of social media, or other forms of technology.

What It Means to be a Bystander When Witnessing Harassing Conduct in the Workplace

A bystander is a witness who is in a position to know what is happening and to take action. Bystanders can be classified as "active" or "passive." Passive bystanders do not speak up, and they feel powerless to stop the inappropriate behavior. They typically:

  • walk away;
  • laugh;
  • ignore or minimize ("It’s just a joke." "It’s no big deal." "He/she doesn’t mind."); or
  • sometimes join in.

Active bystanders intervene by telling the person displaying the inappropriate behavior that their action is not acceptable. They typically:

  • speak up and express disapproval ("That’s not funny." "That is harassment.");
  • step in ("Hey! What’s going on?");
  • ask the person to stop the inappropriate behavior; or
  • give support to the target ("I’m sorry that happened.").

Tips for Bystander Intervention

  • make your presence known and express to engaging parties of the harassing conduct that their actions are inappropriate;
  • create a diversion by politely asking if the party being harassed is okay and if there is anything you can do;
  • change the topic, engage in small talk, or physically step between the two parties;
  • encourage the party being harassed to report the incident of harassment;
  • report harassing conduct to any supervisory or management official;
  • report harassing conduct using the SOL Harassing Conduct Reporting Form (for Employees and Managers) below;
  • keep detail accounts of harassing conduct to help any necessary investigation. e.g. date, time, names of parties involved.

Employee Reporting Expectations

As described in Section 5.C. of DOI Personnel Bulletin 18-01, the Department cannot correct harassing conduct if a supervisor, manager, or other Department official is not aware of it. Any employee who has been subjected to harassing conduct is encouraged to inform the person(s) responsible for the conduct that it is unwelcome and offensive, and request that it cease. If the conduct continues, is severe, or if the employee is uncomfortable addressing the responsible person(s) about the conduct, the employee is encouraged to report the matter to:

  • the supervisor of the employee engaging in the misconduct;
  • another supervisor or other management official;
  • the servicing Human Resources office; or
  • the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Employees who know of or witness possible harassing conduct directed at others are expected to report the matter to any of the officials or offices listed above.

Reports made pursuant to Personnel Bulletin 18-01 do not replace, substitute, or otherwise satisfy the separate obligations of an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint, negotiated or administrative grievance, or other complaint process. Unlike the policy described in Personnel Bulletin 18-01, other complaint procedures typically provide for remedial relief to the victims. See Section 9 of DOI Personnel Bulletin 18-01 for more information about how an employee may pursue rights under one of these separate processes, in addition to reporting the misconduct under the policy of Personnel Bulletin 18-01.

Engaging in additional processes and services available to support employees who have experienced harassing conduct, such as consulting with a union representative to get advice, engaging in alternative dispute resolution procedures, consulting an ombuds/CORE PLUS neutral[1], or contacting the employee assistance program, do not constitute a report under this policy.  See Section 10 of DOI Personnel Bulletin 18-01 for additional information.

[1] Ombuds and other CORE PLUS neutrals are available to discuss any workplace-related concern, including those related to harassing or inappropriate conduct.  Ombuds, in particular, work independently from management’s chain of command, are impartial, and help with both individual and systemic issues.

Harassing Conduct Reporting Information

The confidential information will be available to only the following SOL personnel: 

  • the Solicitor;
  • the Principal Deputy Solicitor;
  • the Deputy Solicitor – General Law;
  • the Associate Solicitor – General Law;
  • the Director of the Division of General Law's Employment and Labor Law Unit (ELLU);
  • the Associate Solicitor – Administration;
  • the Deputy Director of the Division of Administration's Administrative Operations and Planning Branch; and 
  • the Human Resources Officer of the Division of Administration

In the event that the harassing conduct allegation relates to conduct by any of the individuals listed above, employees may alternatively report the allegations directly to the Department’s Office of Human Capital for appropriate action:

Chief Human Capital Officer Mark D. Green. (Email: )

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Information

The DOI EAP is an employee benefit program that helps employees with personal and/or work-related problems that may impact their job performance, health, and mental and emotional well-being. 

Collaborative Action Dispute Resolution (CADR) Office / Ombuds Website

The DOI Ombuds Office can provide employees with confidential, neutral, informal, and independent training, facilitation, dialogue, and coaching. They can help with:

  • disputes with co-workers;
  • questions about SOL/DOI policies;
  • referrals to other places to get help;
  • supervisor/employee disagreements; and
  • bringing concerns to management without disclosing names.

If you need to talk to someone off the record, contact interim Ombuds Vikram Kapoor by phone at 202-494-2907 or via email at More information can be found at the CADR and Organizational Ombuds pages, or on the employee Ombuds SharePoint site.

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