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Sexual Harassment - If you are a victim

What is sexual harassment?

According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is sexual harassment when: 1/

  1. An individual's rejection of such conduct - or submission to it - is used as a basis for employment decisions that affect the employee; or
  2. The unwelcome conduct interferes with an employee's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

The following kinds of behaviors that may be considered sexual harassment if engaged in by a supervisor or if engaged in by a coworker, according to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board:

  • uninvited letters, telephone calls, or materials of a sexual nature
  • uninvited and deliberate touching, leaning over, cornering, or pinching
  • uninvited sexually suggestive looks or gestures
  • uninvited pressure for sexual favors
  • uninvited pressure for dates
  • uninvited sexual teasing, jokes, remarks or questions

What should you do if you are having a problem?

Notify the person of your feelings and request that they stop. Usually this is all that is necessary to put a stop to the unwelcome behavior. You may want to put in writing.

What if it continues?

You have a number of options:

  1. Contact the next higher level of management if your problem is your supervisor.
  2. Contact your supervisor if the problem is with a peer.
  3. Contact your Human Resources Office.
  4. Contact an EEO Counselor to file a complaint
  5. Contact the Wisconsin NRCS Deputy Civil Rights Officer (State Conservationist).
  6. Contact NHQ Civil Rights Staff.

What else can or should you do?

You should definitely record or document all incidents - keep a record of dates, times, actions, what was said and names of any witnesses. You might also want to discuss the problem with someone you trust, this will give you moral support and might result in sound advice. You should also try to find out if other people are having similar problems with the same individual and them consider a group complaint.

Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace: Trends, Progress, Continuing Challenges, A Report to the President and the Congress of the United States by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board. October 1995.