Personnel Bulletin 18-01 Prevention and Elimination of Harassing Conduct establishes a comprehensive anti-harassment program for the Department effective April 23, 2018. Issuance of this policy is another critical step in ensuring that the Department is fully prepared to address all forms of harassment, including those reported in the Work Environment Survey conducted by the Department in 2017.
The Department is committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), status as a parent, marital status, or political affiliation, and free from illegal retaliation. The Department will not tolerate offensive sexual or non-sexual harassing behavior against any Department employee, intern, volunteer, contractor or other non-Federal employee, visitor, or other member of the public. The Department also will not tolerate adverse treatment of employees because they report harassing conduct or provide information related to such complaints.
The primary goals of the policy are to:
The policy achieves these goals by:
The conduct prohibited by this policy includes, but is broader than, the legal definitions of harassment and sexual harassment in order to address such behavior before it rises to the illegal level.
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.
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.
Reporting harassing conduct, discrimination or retaliation; filing a claim of harassment; providing evidence in any investigation; or intervening to protect others who may have suffered harassing conduct, discrimination or retaliation.
The Department will take prompt and appropriate corrective action, including appropriate disciplinary action, to eliminate harassing conduct regardless of whether the conduct rises to the level of a violation of law. Therefore, the goal is to address harassing conduct at the earliest possible stage, before it can become “severe or pervasive,” i.e., harassment within the meaning of anti-discrimination law.
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 an employee to potential discipline if the misconduct is likely to have an adverse effect on the agency (e.g., harassing a co-worker, contractor, visitor, or volunteer during off-duty hours).
The Department cannot correct harassing conduct if a supervisor, manager, or other Department official is not aware of it. As a result, any employee who has been subjected to harassing conduct is encouraged to report the matter to:
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. Managers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report harassing conduct under this policy. In addition, all employees must refrain from engaging in harassing conduct, participate in any required training, and fully cooperate in any inquiry or investigation.
Supervisors/managers who observe or are informed of allegations of harassing conduct must comply with the specific procedural requirements and time frames detailed in the policy. In summary, supervisors/managers must:
For a more detailed overview of supervisor/manager responsibilities, please see the Manager and Supervisor Resources page.
Appropriate corrective action, disciplinary or otherwise, up to and including removal, will be taken against any supervisor or other management official who fails to perform her or his obligations as set forth in this policy, including any failure to report known violations of this policy.
The purpose of this policy is to stop harassing conduct that has occurred and deter its occurrence in the future. This policy and its reporting procedures are separate and distinct from the EEO process, which focuses on making employees whole after they have experienced illegal discrimination (including harassment) by issuing remedial relief, such as compensatory damages. This policy does not replace an employee’s EEO or other rights, including rights to file negotiated or administrative grievances and other appeals. Filing a report under this policy does not satisfy the requirements for filing an EEO complaint, negotiated grievance, or other procedure and obtaining remedies pursuant to them, nor does it delay the time limits for initiating those procedures.
In addition to reporting the conduct to management, employees who have experienced harassing conduct can access multiple available resources that can provide assistance and advice. Engaging with these resources does not constitute a report under this policy, as these entities do not have an obligation to inform management of allegations of harassing conduct: