Survey Manual

370.734.1 - Anti-Harassment Policy and Implementing Procedures

OPR:  Office of the Director

Date:  08/12/2020

 

1. Establishment.

This chapter authorizes the establishment of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Anti-Harassment Policy and Implementing Procedures (Procedures). The procedures provide implementation guidance for the Anti-Harassment Program and describes responsibilities of Anti-Harassment Program participants, including those responsibilities of the Anti-Harassment Program Manager (AHPM).

Workplace harassment is a serious issue that prevents any organization from achieving its goals. The intent of this Survey Manual Chapter is to provide USGS employees with clear direction on how to report and respond to allegations of harassing conduct. The Anti-Harassment Program is intended to ensure that the USGS takes immediate appropriate and reasonable corrective actions to eliminate harassing conduct, regardless of whether the conduct violated the law, before it becomes severe or pervasive.

2. Purpose.

The USGS is committed to creating and maintaining a work environment where all employees have a fair and equal opportunity to succeed. The purpose of this Survey Manual Chapter is to clearly outline the procedures the USGS will use in implementing the Department of the Interior’s (Department) Personnel Bulletin No. 18-01 (policy) on providing a work environment free from harassing conduct by:

  • Defining unacceptable conduct that violates the Department’s policy;
  • Outlining the rights and responsibilities of employees, supervisors, managers; and
  • Establishing reporting procedures and accountability measures.

These procedures ensure the USGS takes immediate and appropriate action to eliminate harassing conduct regardless of whether the conduct rises to the level of violation of law. The goal of the policy and procedures is to ensure the appropriate officials are notified of, and have the opportunity to, promptly correct harassing conduct that either is or has the potential to become severe or pervasive. The procedures indicated in this policy are separate and distinct from the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) process and do not satisfy the requirements for filing an EEO complaint, nor do they delay the strict time limits associated with the EEO process.

3. Scope.

The chapter applies to all USGS employees.

4. Authorities.

A. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub. L. 88-352) (Title VII), as amended

B. Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 2000e through 16

C. Title 29 of the United States Code, Section 633a and 791(f)

D. Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1604.11 and 1614

E. Title 5 of the United States Code, Section 2302(b)(l) and (10)

F. Title 5 of the United States Code, Chapter 75 and substantially similar authorities covering employees in alternate personnel systems

G. Executive Order 11478, as amended

H. 370 Departmental Manual 752

I. Secretary of the Interior Harassment Policy Statement, issued April 12, 2017

J. Department of Interior Personnel Bulletin No.18-01, effective April 23, 2018

5. Definitions.

A. Harassing Conduct

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 the policy and these procedures, 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.

B. Protected Status.

An individual’s 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.

C. Protected Activities.

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.

D. Illegal Harassment.

Unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s protected status that becomes a condition of continued employment or conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.

6. Policy.

The USGS 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 USGS will not tolerate offensive sexual or non-sexual harassing behavior against any USGS employee, intern, volunteer, contractor or other non-Federal employee, visitor, or other member of the public. The USGS will not tolerate adverse treatment of employees because they report harassing conduct, or provide information related to such complaints. The USGS will provide employees with different avenues to report harassing conduct.

7. Prohibited Harassing Conduct.

The conduct prohibited by the policy includes, but is broader than, the legal definition of harassment and sexual harassment. Harassing conduct prohibited by the policy 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 the 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, genetic information (including family medical history), status as a parent, marital status, or political affiliation.

Although not every instance of inappropriate behavior may meet the legal definition of harassment, such behavior undermines morale and the bureau’s mission. Accordingly, the misconduct prohibited by the policy 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 this policy.

Misconduct or inappropriate behavior that is not based on an individual’s protected status or protected activities is not covered by DOI Personnel Bulletin No. 18-01 and the notification deadlines set forth in the policy and implementing procedures but should still be addressed by management. Management officials should contact the second level supervisor or the servicing Employee Relations (ER) Specialist to discuss how to address misconduct or inappropriate behavior not covered by the policy.

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 harassing conduct may subject the employee to potential discipline if the harassing conduct is likely to have an adverse effect on the USGS (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.

8. Prohibited Retaliatory Conduct.

It is a violation of the policy to retaliate against employees who engage in protected activities under the policy. Protected activities include reporting harassing, discriminatory or retaliatory conduct; filing a claim of harassment; providing evidence in any investigation; or intervening to protect others who may have suffered harassing conduct, discrimination or retaliation. A manager may not fire, demote, harass, or otherwise take any personnel action against an individual for reporting an allegation of misconduct under the policy.

It is important that supervisors and managers protect employees who report alleged misconduct and do not take any retaliatory personnel action against these individuals in order to deter reporting harassing conduct or filing a complaint. A supervisor/manager found to have engaged in retaliation is subject to disciplinary action.

The following examples are a non-exhaustive list of actions that would be prohibited retaliation if they were taken because of, or were motivated by, an employee’s protected activity: transferring the complainant or witness against his or her will, ignoring or not communicating with the complainant or witness, engaging in verbal or physical abuse, or non-selection for an employment opportunity.

Engaging in protected activities under the policy does not shield an employee from all personnel actions. Supervisors/managers can take personnel actions, including discipline and removal, if they are motivated by non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory reasons that would otherwise result in such consequences (e.g., transferring an employee for legitimate business reasons or closely monitoring the performance of an employee on a Performance Improvement Plan).

9. Employee Reporting Expectations.

The USGS cannot correct harassing conduct if a supervisor, manager, or other bureau 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 harassing conduct;
  • Another supervisor or other management official;
  • The servicing Human Resources (HR) 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 this policy do not replace, substitute, or otherwise satisfy the separate obligations of an EEO complaint of discrimination, negotiated or administrative grievance, or other complaint process. Unlike this policy, other complaint procedures typically provide for remedial relief to the victims.

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 Ombudsman/CORE PLUS[1] neutral, or contacting the employee assistance program, do not constitute a report under this policy. More information regarding the Ombudsman program can be found at https://www.doi.gov/employees/employmentlaw/ombuds-0.

10. Management Duty to Act.

Managers and supervisors who observe or are informed of allegations of harassing conduct must comply with the following procedures:

  • Report the misconduct/allegation(s) to the appropriate officials, even if the employee raising the allegation(s) requests confidentiality;
  • Ensure that a prompt, objective, and thorough investigation is conducted; and
  • Take steps to ensure that the harassing conduct is appropriately addressed to deter further misconduct, including taking appropriate disciplinary action.

The fact that a potential victim of harassing conduct will or has filed an EEO complaint or grievance alleging harassment does not relieve a manager of his or her duty to act pursuant to this policy. Therefore, it is possible that multiple inquiries into a given complaint may proceed in parallel.

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 unreasonable failure to report known violations of this policy.

11. Distinction from EEO and Other Remedial Procedures.

The policy and its reporting procedures are separate and distinct from the EEO complaint process, which adheres to remedial relief, such as compensatory damages, if discrimination has been found, to include discriminatory harassment. The policy does not replace an employee’s EEO or other rights. Corrective action taken under the policy does not provide for the remedies that may be available in the EEO process, administrative or negotiated grievance procedures, or any other processes. Further, reporting allegations of misconduct under the policy does not satisfy the requirements for filing an EEO complaint of discrimination, administrative or negotiated grievance, or other procedures, nor does it delay established timelines for those procedures. More information regarding the EEO complaints process and timelines for filing such complaint is available to USGS employees via the internal EEO site. 

12. Responsibilities.

A. USGS Director and Deputy Director are responsible for:

(1) Ensuring overall implementation of the policy and procedures;

(2) Disseminating the policy and procedures to all employees on an annual basis;

(3) Ensuring supervisors and managers are appropriately rated on the critical element reflecting accountability to operate in full compliance of the policy;

(4) Monitoring the work environment following a report alleging a violation of this policy to ensure that there are no further violations or incidents of retaliation and protection for any individual who has reported harassment or participated in the investigation; and

(5) Ensuring sufficient resources are made available to support these efforts.

B. Executive Leadership Team Members are responsible for:

(1) Implementing the policy and procedures on a day-to-day basis;

(2) Ensuring supervisors and managers are appropriately rated on the critical element reflecting accountability to operate in full compliance of the policy;

(3) Appointing Peer Support Workers (PSW) within their organization; and

(4) Ensuring the DOI Personnel Bulletin No. 18-01 is implemented consistently within their organization as outlined within this chapter.

C. USGS Chief, Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (DEO) is responsible for:

(1) Providing information to all employees on EEO;

(2) Ensuring all employees are aware of their rights regarding the EEO discrimination complaint process;

(3) Receiving and investigating accepted allegations of discriminatory harassment; and

(4) Ensuring that the DEO informs the AHPM of all EEO counseling activity alleging harassment, within two business days.

D. USGS Human Capital Officer (HCO) is responsible for:

(1) Developing and providing periodic communications to all USGS employees on the policy and procedures and any USGS specific requirements;

(2) Incorporating the policy and procedures into the bureau’s supervisory training curriculum;

(3) Resolving any disagreements involving investigations between management officials and the consulting ER Specialist or the Office of the Solicitor (SOL) regarding whether and what type of investigation is necessary;

(4) Providing oversight, technical assistance, and support to USGS staff to ensure compliance with the policy and procedures;

(5) Ensuring the policy and procedures are properly executed by monitoring inquiries and investigations of reported or otherwise discovered harassing conduct;

(6) Providing guidance concerning the information to be gathered and methods to be used during inquiries and investigations; and otherwise ensuring that the investigations are swift, thorough, impartial, and appropriate to the allegation(s);

(7) Reviewing monthly the information contained in the system used by servicing ER Specialist to track harassing conduct allegations and provide information to the USGS Director and the DOI Chief Human Capital Officer, as requested;

(8) Providing the record of actions taken under the policy to any office handling a parallel statutory or grievance claim; and

(9) Recruiting and retaining an AHPM.

E. USGS Deputy Associate Director for Human Capital is responsible for:

(1) Tracking all cases and reporting monthly to the USGS HCO and the Department; and

(2) Assisting the USGS HCO with overseeing the implementation of the policy.

F. Anti-Harassment Program Manager is responsible for:

(1) Serving as the USGS-wide Anti-Harassment point of contact;

(2) Consulting with ER on alleged violations of the policy so that ER can make or direct further inquiries into such reports, as appropriate and necessary;

(3) Establishing and carrying out the policies, procedures, and standards necessary to implement the policy;

(4) Ensuring that the investigation process is prompt, thorough, and impartial;

(5) Providing program management, technical assistance and support to USGS staff to ensure compliance with the policy and procedures;

(6) Developing and providing periodic training for all USGS employees on the policy and related guidance;

(7) Preparing Anti-Harassment policy statements for the Director’s signature to be disseminated annually to all employees;

(8) Assuring, to the extent possible, that the USGS will protect the confidentiality of individuals bringing forward claims of harassment;

(9) Maintaining a written record of reports and actions taken pursuant to the policy and providing those reports to the USGS Director, USGS HCO and Chief of Diversity and Equal Opportunity;

(10) Providing monthly reports to the USGS Human Resources Officer;

(11) Reporting allegations of harassing conduct under the policy and the necessary corrective/disciplinary action taken, if any, to the Director; and

(12) Maintaining the Anti-Harassment Program Website.

G. Employee Relations Specialists are responsible for:

(1) Upon receiving reports alleging violations of the policy, making or directing further inquiries into such reports, as appropriate and necessary, in consultation with the SOL;

(2) Assuring, to the extent possible, the confidentiality of individuals bringing forward claims of harassing conduct;

(3) Ensuring the investigation process is prompt, thorough, and impartial;

(4) Serving as the primary contact and advisor to supervisors and management officials within their serviced organizations;

(5) Conducting investigations where assigned, generally in areas outside their direct serviced organizations, to maintain a level of objectivity and impartiality;

(6) Coordinating third-party investigations within their serviced organizations;

(7) Preparing draft actions to address harassing conduct, which include proposals and decisions of corrective/disciplinary actions and coordinating all draft actions with the SOL;

(8) Reporting and coordinating actions with the USGS Human Capital Officer; and

(9) Recording and tracking information about the status of allegations of harassing conduct and complaints in the appropriate tracking system to monitor compliance with the policy. This includes understanding trends related to harassing conduct and supporting swift resolution of complaints.

H. Supervisors and Managers are responsible for:

(1) Making every effort to provide a work environment free of harassment;

(2) Ensuring their subordinates are aware of and follow the policy and its requirements;

(3) Following any additional procedures, handbooks, or guidelines issued by DOI or the USGS related to the policy;

(4) Acting promptly and effectively to stop harassing conduct of which they are aware, and holding employees who have engaged in harassing conduct accountable;

(5) Ensuring the investigation process is prompt, thorough, and impartial;

(6) Receiving reports alleging violations of this policy, making or directing further inquiries into such reports, in consultation with ER and the SOL, and taking corrective/disciplinary action, as appropriate and necessary;

(7) Notifying appropriate officials of reported or observed harassing conduct under the policy and of their efforts to correct misconduct;

(8) Appropriately evaluating and holding accountable subordinate supervisors and managers for their performance under the policy;

(9) Protecting employees, including complainants, witnesses and others who report misconduct, and/or participate in investigations of misconduct from retaliation; and

(10) Assuring, to the extent possible, the confidentiality of individuals bringing claims of harassing conduct are protected.

I. All Employees:

(1) Must refrain from engaging in harassing conduct, participate in periodic training required under the policy, and fully cooperate in any inquiry or investigation;

(2) Are expected to understand their rights and responsibilities under the policy and report harassing conduct that they are aware of or witness in the work environment; and

(3) Must certify that they understand their rights and responsibilities under the policy.

(4) Who are victims of harassing conduct are encouraged to report the harassing conduct.

13. Management Response to Reports of Harassing Conduct.

A. Documenting Reports of Harassing Conduct.

A supervisor, manager, or Human Resources (HR) official who receives a report of, or otherwise becomes aware of, harassing conduct, must within one business day:

(1) Document the allegation(s) in writing (see Appendix A, Report of Alleged Harassment Intake Form);

(2) Acknowledge receipt of the report to the reporting party in writing (Reference the Report of Alleged Harassment Intake Form, Appendix A, for sample language); and

(3) Contact the ER Specialist who services the sub-component where the alleged harasser resides and provide them the completed Report of Alleged Harassment Intake Form and documentation that verifies acknowledgment of receipt of the report to the reporting party.

B. Supervisor/Manager Immediate Actions.

(1) Determinations to be made.  A supervisor/manager who receives a report of, or otherwise becomes aware of, harassing conduct involving subordinates must promptly contact the servicing ER Specialist. In consultation with the ER Specialist, the supervisor/manager must determine:

(a) What conduct is at issue, whether it arguably could be considered harassing conduct, and whether it is potentially criminal in nature;

(b) Who may be involved; and

(c) Whether the reported activity poses a security risk and whether it is necessary to alert law enforcement (e.g., in instances where there is a threat of immediate physical harm).

If a report is made outside of regular business hours, supervisors/managers should take action based on their best judgment to minimize any perceived risk of immediate harm and contact the servicing ER Specialist as soon as normal business hours resume.

(2) Conflicts of Interest of Senior-Level Officials.

If the USGS Director or Deputy Director is implicated in the potentially harassing conduct, the DOI Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) will designate an appropriate management official to be responsible for making the preliminary determinations and directing any further investigation that is warranted.

(3) Interim Measures to Ensure Harassing Conduct Does Not Continue.

Before directing a thorough investigation into the allegations of harassing conduct, a supervisor/manager must take any necessary interim steps to ensure that the potentially harassing conduct does not continue. The interim measures taken will depend on the severity of the conduct alleged. The two interim measures listed below are required in cases of serious misconduct, including, but not limited to, harassing conduct of a physical, sexual, or otherwise threatening nature, depending on the circumstances.

Before implementing either of the measures below, the supervisor/manager must consult with the servicing ER Specialist and the Harassment Duty Attorney of the SOL/Employment and Labor Law Unit (ELLU) for advice and guidance. If the report is made outside of the regular business hours of the servicing ER Specialist, supervisors/managers should take action based on their best judgment to minimize any perceived risk of immediate harm and contact the servicing ER Specialist as soon as normal business hours resume.

(a) Separation of the Allegedly Harassing Employee from the Alleged Victim.

If the reported conduct is severe or pervasive, including, but not limited to, threatening behavior, touching, punching, or other egregious harassing behavior, the supervisor/manager should separate the employee alleged with harassing conduct from the alleged victim, at least until the matter otherwise can be investigated. Management should not move the employee who reported or otherwise was the alleged victim of harassing conduct unless the individual perceives a level of personal risk and requests to be relocated for their safety.

If the alleged victim, without having been asked or prompted, specifically requests such a move or transfer, management should inform the employee that she or he need not leave, and that instead the employee alleged to be responsible for the harassing conduct may be moved. Nonetheless, to the extent possible, management should honor the alleged victim’s request. Appropriate steps to separate the alleged victim from the alleged harasser include, but are not limited to:

  • Assigning the alleged harasser to a telework status or a temporary detail;
  • Moving the alleged harasser to another office space, desk or floor; or
  • Requesting approval to place the alleged harasser on administrative or investigative leave.

(b) Issuing No Contact Instructions.

Another interim measure that a supervisor/manager may take to help ensure that harassing conduct stops is to instruct the allegedly harassing employee to have no further contact with the victim until a thorough investigation has been completed.

C. Notifying Appropriate Officials of Report.

Management officials must notify the following parties within one business day:

(1) Supervisors/managers who become aware of harassing conduct involving their subordinates must notify their own first-line supervisor or, if the conduct implicates the first-line supervisor, notify the second-line supervisor.

(2) Supervisors/managers who become aware of harassing conduct involving employees outside of their chain of command must:

(a) Notify the allegedly harassing employee’s supervisor; and

(b) Notify the alleged victim’s supervisor, or, if the conduct implicates the supervisor or another manager, the USGS HCO.

(3) When a supervisor/manager has consulted with the servicing ER Specialist regarding a report of alleged harassing conduct, the assigned ER Specialist will:

(a) Notify the Harassment Duty Attorney of the SOL/ELLU at SOL-Antiharass@sol.doi.gov; and

(b) Notify the ER Specialist of the allegedly harassing employee, if different from the ER Specialist who received the complaint.

(c) If, in consultation with the Harassment Duty Attorney, it is determined the allegations fall within the scope of PB 18-01, the ER Specialist will provide a copy of the “Notification of Rights, Responsibilities & Resources”, Appendix B, to the alleged victim and/or the person who filed the report of alleged harassment.

(4) When a report of alleged harassing conduct is made directly to the AHPM or servicing ER Specialist, the servicing ER Specialist will:

(a) Notify the SOL/ELLU Harassment Duty Attorney at SOL-Antiharass@sol.doi.gov; and

(b) Notify and assist the next appropriate level of management above the allegedly harassing employee implicated in the report with immediately making the determinations described in the Management Response to Harassing Conduct section and taking any other necessary and appropriate action.

D. Conducting Further Investigation.

(1) Deciding whether further investigation is necessary.

Within three business days of the receipt of the allegation(s), the supervisor/manager of the allegedly harassing employee, or other designated management official, must consult with the SOL and the servicing ER Specialist to determine whether and what type of further investigation is required or if the preliminary inquiry is sufficient to determine whether corrective/disciplinary action is necessary. These decisions are fact-specific and must be made on a case-by-case basis. Any disagreement between the responsible management official and the consulting offices will be directed to the USGS HCO for decision.

If it is determined that an investigation is necessary, the servicing ER Specialist will ensure that the investigative process is initiated within two business days of the decision being made regarding the appropriate investigative entity (e.g., refer the case to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), initiate the funding process and prepare a statement of work for a third-party investigator). The servicing ER Specialist will serve as the primary point of contact for logistics related to getting an internal or third-party investigator in place, as well as when the allegations have been referred for criminal investigation or to the OIG.

(2) Deciding who will conduct the investigation.

If it is determined that further investigation is necessary, the following general guidelines will apply for choosing the type of investigation:

(a) OIG: Allegations of criminal activity, allegations implicating a member of the Senior Executive Service, or other senior or prominent management official, senior law enforcement official, or any OIG employee, and allegations tied to waste, fraud, or abuse of Department funds/programs or violations of Federal ethics regulations must be referred to OIG, which has the right of first refusal in conducting the investigation. OIG may also undertake any criminal, civil or administrative investigations regarding allegations of any grade employee involved in a serious or notorious allegation or incident that may negatively impact the operations and efficiency of the Department.

(b) Third-party investigators: Allegations of harassing conduct of a sexual nature. A third-party investigator can be a contract investigator, a DOI HR official from outside USGS, or a management official outside the Bureau/Office/Region chain of command. All other allegations under this policy may be handled by the AHPM, ER Specialist(s), supervisor/manager, or another employee trained to conduct administrative investigations. The supervisor/manager of the employee alleged to have engaged in harassing conduct, or other designated management official, in consultation with the servicing ER Specialist and the SOL, will make the final decision about the investigation method based on the complexity and scope of the allegation(s) and the availability of qualified investigators. In addition, it is recommended that management consider using a third-party investigator for allegations involving a supervisor/manager, or any other serious, complex, or particularly sensitive allegations, or where the allegations involve human resources or ER staff.

(3) Deciding who will pay for the investigation.

It is the responsibility of the center of the alleged harasser to pay for the investigation. When multiple centers are involved, the ELT member(s) of those centers will determine payment for the investigation.

(4) Conducting an investigation.

All investigations must be conducted swiftly, impartially, and in a manner appropriate to the allegation(s). All investigations handled by a USGS supervisor/manager, servicing ER Specialist, AHPM, other trained USGS employee or third-party investigator must be conducted in accordance with the Department’s Investigator Guide to Conducting Administrative Investigations.

E. Making a Determination of Action.

To determine whether corrective/disciplinary action is necessary, the supervisor/manager of the employee alleged to have engaged in harassing conduct must consult with the servicing ER Specialist and SOL to determine whether any disciplinary or other corrective action would be appropriate or if the allegation should be closed with no finding of misconduct.

If the decision is made that the allegation should be closed with no finding of misconduct, the supervisor/manager must write a memorandum detailing why no corrective action was warranted. This memorandum must be approved by the next higher-level manager and be included in the case file maintained by the servicing ER Specialist. Following such a finding, interim measures that were implemented to reduce the potential for confrontations between the alleged victim and the employee alleged to have engaged in harassing conduct may be lifted upon consultation with the ER Specialist.

F. Taking Corrective Action.

If it is determined that harassing conduct occurred, corrective/disciplinary action is necessary. If facts uncovered during the investigation or inquiry demonstrate that misconduct occurred, the supervisor/manager must propose disciplinary or other corrective action. If there is disagreement between the supervisor/manager and the consulting offices on whether corrective/disciplinary action is appropriate, the next higher level of management will make the decision.

The appropriate corrective/disciplinary action will depend on the severity and/or pervasiveness of the offense, the action that would be required to end such conduct, the offender’s disciplinary/conduct history, and other surrounding circumstances. Corrective action may include counseling or any disciplinary action applicable to instances of misconduct, such as reprimand, suspension, demotion, or termination, in accordance with 370 DM 752, Discipline and Adverse Actions. Where evidence indicates that employees are not sure about what conduct is appropriate and permissible, appropriate specific additional training should be provided.

A supervisor/manager’s failure to take appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective action will generally support a charge of negligent supervision and be an actionable charge. 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/his obligations as set forth in the policy, including any unreasonable failure to report known violations of the policy. In addition, leaders and managers will appropriately evaluate and hold accountable subordinate supervisors/managers for their performance under the policy using the required supervisory critical element.

G. Responding to Reports of Harassing Conduct Raised in a Statutory, Administrative, or Negotiated Grievance Process.

If an employee pursues a claim of harassment through the EEO complaint process, a Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) appeal, or a negotiated/administrative grievance, the Department or bureau official who receives notice of such claim will promptly notify the appropriate responsible management official. The management official has a duty to act promptly upon learning that harassing conduct has been alleged, must treat the notice as a report under the policy, and must follow the steps outlined in section seven of DOI Personnel Bulletin No. 18-01, unless inconsistent with applicable regulatory or statutory requirements. It is possible that multiple inquiries into a given complaint may proceed in parallel.

14. Issuing Closeout Memo - Lifting Interim Measures.

The appropriate management official(s), in consultation with the servicing ER Specialist and the SOL, will issue a Closeout Memo to the alleged harasser and the alleged victim once the process has concluded. If applicable, the Closeout Memo will contain instructions on lifting interim measures.

15. Offering Conflict Resolution Services.

The ER Specialist, in consultation with the appropriate management official(s), USGS CADR office, and/or the AHPM will determine if offering conflict resolution services or process options are appropriate given the circumstances of the case. If it’s determined that conflict resolution services would be valuable and appropriate, the ER Specialist will refer the parties and appropriate management officials to the USGS CADR office to explore available options, and to ascertain if the parties wish to participate.

16. Maintaining Confidentiality and Keeping Records.

A. Maintaining Confidentiality.

Supervisors/managers must take action to investigate all allegations of harassing conduct, even if the employee raising the allegation requests confidentiality. All reports of harassing conduct and related information will be maintained on a confidential basis to the greatest extent possible. The identity of the employee alleging violations of this policy, the identity of the alleged victim, and the identity of the employee alleged to have engaged in harassing conduct will be kept confidential, except as necessary to conduct an appropriate investigation into the alleged violations, to take appropriate corrective/disciplinary action, to comply with the reporting requirements of this policy, or when otherwise required by law.

In addition to the Closeout Memo, upon inquiry from the alleged victim, the supervisor/manager must notify the alleged victim of the harassing conduct about the completion of the process to the extent permitted under the Privacy Act. The alleged victim may not be provided the outcome of any disciplinary action against the allegedly harassing employee and may not be provided a copy of the fact-finding report. The supervisor/manager must consult with the servicing ER specialist and SOL about this notification.

B. Tracking Allegations of Harassing Conduct.

The servicing ER Specialist will be responsible for tracking the information related to the allegations of harassing conduct in separate case files, in accordance with established records management policies. The servicing ER Specialist must monitor and record the status of allegations, including final resolution, in the appropriate tracking system approved by the Department’s Office of Human Resources. This information will help the Department monitor compliance with this policy, understand trends related to harassing conduct, and ensure swift resolution of complaints.

17. Distinction from Statutory and Grievance Claims.

The purpose of this policy is to stop harassing conduct that has occurred and deter its occurrence in the future. However, corrective action under the policy does not provide the remedies available in the EEO complaint, grievance or other processes, such as compensatory damages. 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. Thus, an employee who chooses to pursue statutory, administrative, or collective bargaining remedies for illegal harassment must select one of the following:

  • For an EEO complaint pursuant to 29 C.F.R. §1614 (available for all claims of illegal harassment other than those based on status as a parent, marital status and political affiliation), contact an EEO counselor in the Bureau’s or Office’s Equal Employment Opportunity/Civil Rights Office within 45 calendar days from the most recent incident of alleged harassment (or personnel action, if one is involved), as required in 29 C.F.R. §1614.105(a)(1); or
  • For a negotiated grievance claim, file a grievance in accordance with the provisions of the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement; or
  • For an administrative grievance claim, file a written grievance in accordance with the provisions of 370 DM 771, Administrative Grievance Procedures; or
  • For an appeal to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) regarding claims of harassment related to marital status and political affiliation, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §2302(b)(1) and (b) (10), file a written appeal with the OSC as described in 5 C.F.R. §1800.1 and on https://osc.gov/; or
  • For an appeal to the MSPB pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 1201.22, file a written appeal with the Board within 30 days of the effective date of an appealable adverse action as defined in 5 C.F.R. §1201.3, or within 30 days of the date of receipt of the agency's decision, whichever is later.

18. Additional Resources.

A. Consultation Options.

Employees who have experienced harassing conduct have multiple resources available that can provide assistance and advice. Engaging with the following resources does not constitute a report under these procedures, as these entities do not have an obligation to inform management of allegations of harassing conduct.

(1) Ombudsman/CORE PLUS Neutrals: The Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution (CADR) ombudsman work independently from management’s chain of command and are impartial. CORE PLUS neutrals are qualified, certified providers of conflict management and alternative dispute resolution services. Conversations with ombudsman and other CORE PLUS neutrals are confidential and informal and provide managers and employees a safe place to explore options for addressing individual or organizational concerns. Information regarding CADR services can be found on the USGS Human Capital Website, Conflict Management Section: https://www.usgs.gov/about/organization/science-support/human-capital/conflict-management.

(2) Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The Department’s 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. Information about EAP services is available at: https://www.doi.gov/pmb/hr/eap.

(3) Victim Assistance Program: The Department’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security Victim Assistance Program provides general information about rights and services available for victims of crime.

(4) Union Representative: Employees who are covered by a bargaining unit can consult with a union representative.

B. Informational Resources.

(1) Peer Support Workers (PSWs): PSWs receive routine training so they can stay abreast of DOI and USGS Anti-Harassment policies and implementing procedures and are available to provide information and educational materials regarding the policies and reporting procedures. PSWs are not bound by confidentiality, are not advocates or representatives of employees, and are expected to report specific instances of harassing conduct when they learn of them.

(2) To learn more about the Department’s Anti-Harassment resources, visit https://www.doi.gov/employees/anti-harassment.

(3) To learn more about the USGS Anti-Harassment Program, visit https://www.usgs.gov/about/organization/science-support/human-capital/anti-harassment-program

19. Inquiries.

Any USGS employee or employee representative seeking further information concerning these procedures may contact the AHPM or their servicing ER Specialist. For an active case, the alleged victim and alleged harasser may inquire as to the status of the case at any time during the process and will be provided information to the extent permitted under the Privacy Act.

20. Distribution.

The policy and procedures will be distributed to all employees upon issuance, and annually thereafter. The policy and procedures will also be distributed to all employees new to the USGS as part of their orientation materials. The policy and procedures will be made available to all employees on the USGS Anti-Harassment Website accessible at https://www.usgs.gov/about/organization/science-support/human-capital/anti-harassment-program, which also provides additional Anti-Harassment resources.

21. Expiration Date. The policy and procedures are active until superseded and will be reviewed annually.

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

 

 

/s/ Katherine M. McCulloch                                                                 August 12, 2020
__________________________________________                        __________
Katherine M. McCulloch                                                                       Date        
Associate Director for Administration