It is imperative that we at the U.S. Department of Labor maintain a model work environment in which no employee, applicant for employment, or contractor is subject to unlawful harassment and where all employees, applicants, and contractors are treated with dignity and respect.

The Department defines harassing conduct as any unwelcome conduct, verbal or physical, based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, parental status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation or belief, or any other prohibited factor. Harassment includes unreasonable interference with an employee’s work performance, actions that create a hostile or abusive work environment, and actions that result in an employment decision affecting the employee, which is based upon the employee’s acceptance or rejection of such conduct. The Department’s harassment policy applies equally to employees, applicants for employment, and contractors.

We will take swift and appropriate corrective or disciplinary action to address incidents of harassment, including sexual harassment, which is prohibited by our policies regardless of whether the harassment violates federal law.  The Department strives to eliminate harassing conduct at the earliest possible stages before it becomes severe or pervasive enough to violate the law.

Employees who believe that they have been subjected to, or have witnessed, any harassing conduct should report the matter promptly to a person in their supervisory chain, their Agency Workplace Equality Compliance Office (WECO), or, for regional office employees, the Regional Administrator of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM) in the region where the conduct took place.  In regional cases, the OASAM Regional Administrator will promptly notify the Agency WECO.  Any applicants who believe that they have been subjected to harassing conduct during the process of applying for employment at the Department should report the incident to the WECO of OASAM.

Reporting harassing conduct, as described above, does not constitute filing an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint and does not pause the timeframe for timely raising an EEO complaint. Employees are not precluded from filing EEO complaints concerning allegations of harassment while also raising allegations in the manner described above.

Where appropriate, the Department will provide interim relief to employees who are victims of alleged harassing conduct to ensure that further misconduct does not occur.  We also prohibit retaliation against any employee for making a good-faith report of harassing conduct, for cooperating with or participating in any investigation of alleged harassing conduct, or otherwise engaging in protected activity.  All information provided to Departmental officials will be maintained on a confidential basis to the greatest extent possible.

Let us all work to maintain a respectful work environment free from harassing conduct as we carry out our mission to improve the lives of American workers and their families.

 

EUGENE SCALIA