Sexual Harassment is a form of sex discrimination that involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when—
*Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person’s job, pay, or career, or
*Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person, or
*Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Any person in a supervisory or command position who condones any form of sexual behavior to control, influence, or affect the career, pay, or job of a Military member or civilian employee is engaging in sexual harassment. Similarly, any Military member or civilian employee who makes deliberate or repeated unwelcome verbal comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature in the workplace is also engaging in sexual harassment.
Note: “Workplace” is an expansive term for Soldiers and may include conduct on or off duty, 24 hours a day.
EXAMPLES MAY INCLUDE:
*Making sexual jokes, gestures, remarks, or innuendos.
*Making comments about an individual’s appearance, body, clothing, or sexual behavior.
*Spreading sexual rumors about an individual.
*Persistent, unwanted requests for social (dates) or sexual activity.
*Participating in sexually charged conversations.
*Making and/or posting inappropriate sexual remarks to, or photos of, an individual via social media sites, text message, or email.
*Displaying pornographic material or sexual photos in the workplace.
*Making a sexually offensive expression.
*Conduct of a sexual nature intended to embarrass, intimidate, demean or degrade.
*Intimidation (blocking or cornering someone in a sexual way).
Filing an informal complaint of sexual harassment
Informal complaints of sexual harassment involve less severe or egregious incidents that can be resolved by the individual, with the help of another, and/or by the commander or other authority. Typically, these involve something a complainant believes can be resolved through discussion, problem identification, counseling, and/or clarification of the issues. Initiating an informal complaint does not require the complainant to submit anything in writing and is not subject to timelines. These cases are typically not required to be reported to higher headquarters, but aggregate data are sometimes reported to major commands. While those involved try to promote confidentiality throughout, it is not guaranteed or promised.
Additional information about Military and Civilian informal complaint processes can be found in
Army Regulation 600-20 (Army Command Policy).
FILING A FORMAL COMPLAINT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Formal complaints for DA Civilians, former employees, or applicants seeking employment, and certain contract employees are handled through the EEO complaint process. Details of the complaint process for Civilian personnel filing a complaint are found in AR 690-600 (Equal Employment Opportunity Discrimination Complaints).
Details for military personnel filing a complaint are found in Army Regulation 600-20 (Army Command Policy) and follow the same procedures as an Equal Opportunity complaint.
FORMAL MILITARY COMPLAINTS
The formal military complaint requires use of DA Form 7279 (Equal Opportunity Complaint Form), and claimants must swear to the accuracy of their allegations. The process contains specific timelines, and commands are required to include specific documentation. All formal sexual harassment complaints are reportable to higher headquarters.
Military complainants have 60 calendar days from the date of the alleged incident to file a formal complaint. If the complaint is submitted after the 60-day window, a commander may still elect to investigate the claim. Normally he/she would consider the reason for the delay, the availability of witnesses, and whether a full and fair inquiry or investigation can be conducted.
All formal complaints are reported within three calendar days of the commander's receipt of the complaint to the first General Court-Martial Convening Authority in the chain of command. During those first three days, the commander/or other agency handling the complaint determines whether he/she can handle the complaint at their level or need to refer it to the appropriate commander or agency.
Within 14 days, the commander/agency conducts an inquiry or investigation and provides feedback to the complainant. If an inquiry or investigation cannot be completed within 14 calendar days, or (three MUTA 4 drill periods for Reserve Component (RC) Soldiers), an extension of a maximum of 30 calendar days or (two MUTA 4 drill periods for RC Soldiers) may be approved by the next higher echelon commander.
The complainant has seven days from the date of notification of the results of the investigation (at the next MUTA 4 drill period for RC personnel) to submit an appeal. The appeal must be in writing on DA Form 7279 , along with a brief statement describing the reason for the appeal. Actions(s) taken against the subject, if any, may not be appealed. Once the appeal is initiated by the complainant, the commander has three calendar days (or one MUTA 4 drill period for the RCs) to refer the appeal to the next higher unit commander. The commander to whom the appeal is made has 14 calendar days (or three MUTA 4 periods for the RCs) to review the case and act on the appeal (that is, approve it, deny it, or conduct an additional investigation). Not later than the 14th calendar day following receipt of the appeal (or appropriate RC timelines), the commander will provide written feedback, consistent with Privacy Act and FOIA limitations, to the complainant on the results of the appeal. This process applies equally to subsequent appeals submitted through the chain of command. Complaints that are not resolved at brigade level may be appealed to the GCMCA. Decisions at this level are final. The formal complaint process is found in AR 600-20.
FORMAL CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE COMPLAINTS
The complainant must contact an EEO Counselor within 45 calendar days of an alleged discriminatory action. The EEO Counselor will try to resolve the matter informally within 30 calendar days from the date of the initial interview with the complainant. Counseling may be extended up to 60 additional days, upon agreement of complainant and EEO Office, or if an established Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure is utilized.
A complainant may file a written formal complaint with the EEO Office, servicing EEO Office or Agency Head, within 15 calendar days after the final interview with the EEO counselor.
If the complaint is accepted by the EEO Officer, an investigator is assigned to collect all relevant information. If portions of the complaint are dismissed, the complainant will be provided, in writing, the reason(s) for dismissal and informed of his/her right to appeal the decision.
The DOD IRD (Investigations Resolutions Division - EEO Investigations and Resolutions) is required to complete the investigation within 180 days from the filing of the formal complaint, with a possible extension of 90 additional days, upon mutual agreement. After the investigation, the complainant may request a Final Army Decision or a hearing by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (The complainant may also request a hearing after 180 days has elapsed from the filing of the complaint, if the investigation has not been completed.).
If complainant requests a Final Army Decision, the DA Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance and Complaints Review Agency (EEOCCR) or the applicable DoD Agency Head issues the department's decision on the complaint. The decision is issued within 60 days.
If complainant requests a hearing by the EEOC, an EEOC Administrative Judge (AJ) conducts a hearing and submits his/her findings and conclusions within 180 days of the request. If the agency does not issue a final order within 40 days of receipt of the AJ's decision, the AJ's decision becomes the final action of the agency.
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the Final Army Decision, he/she may appeal to EEOC's Office of Federal Operations (OFO) or file a civil action in a U.S. District Court.
If the complainant is dissatisfied with OFO's decision, he/she may request reopening and reconsideration by EEOC or may file a civil action in a U.S. District Court.