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employee transfers, resignations or dismissals as a result of the tense work environment it creates.
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature if it meets any of the following criteria:
• Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly
or implicitly a term or condition of a person's employment.
• Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a per
son is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting him/her.
• Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substan
tially interfering with a person's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Customs recognizes that sexual harassment is a violation of the law and will not tolerate it. Such conduct will result in disciplinary action. (See. Policy Statement, Appendix I, page 46.).
Types of Sexual Harassment
The five basic types of sexual harassment are described briefly below. Women are more often the victims of sexual harassment; however, men can also be victims. Sexual harassment may occur between men and women or between persons of the same gender.
This conduct usually occurs between a manager/supervisor and an employee. The employee is asked to provide sexual favors in exchange for certain benefits or rewards. If the employee does not comply, he/she is threatened with an action which will have an adverse effect upon his/her career.
John is told by his supervisor that if he does not provide sexual favors he will receive a bad evaluation and lose his job.
This conduct involves unwanted touching, kissing, patting, or pinching. It may occur between supervisors, subordinates, co-workers, or persons outside the office.
Whenever John sees Mary he stands very close to her and puts his arm around her. She has told him she does not like it and always moves his arm. He laughs and continues this behavior whenever he sees Mary.
This conduct includes telling sexually-oriented jokes, commenting about a person's body or initiating conversations filled with sexual innuendos. It may involve managers, supervisors, subordinates, co-workers, and persons outside the office.
John, a broker from XYZ, Inc. always stops at Mary's office on his way to see her supervisor. He stops to tell her the latest "dirty" joke he has heard. Mary always turns red with embarrassment and has asked John to keep his jokes to himself. John thinks it's cute when Mary blushes.
This conduct is much more subtle than the others. It primarily involves eye contact.
Mary feels very uncomfortable talking to John because whenever they talk he stares at her chest.
This conduct consists of displaying sexually suggestive pictures or objects in the workplace that embarrass or humiliate employees. These items are inappropriate because they portray co-workers as sexual objects instead of professionals.
John has a statue on his desk which causes snickers from his male peers because of its sexually suggestive nature.
Customs is liable for the illegal acts of its supervisors and employees when it knows or should have known of the sexually harassing conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Customs is also liable for the sexual harassment of employees in the workplace by non-employees. (e.g., brokers) unless steps are taken to stop the harassment.
All employees must:
• Know and understand the Customs policy on sexual
• Be aware of their actions and how they affect others. • Observe the work environment and report any
evidence of sexual harassment.
Managers and supervisors have the same responsibilities as other employees and must:
• Model appropriate behavior.
• Educate employees on what constitutes sexual
harassment, how it should be handled (formal procedures), and what actions will be taken against harassers.
• Investigate and resolve incidents of alleged sexual
harassment. This may entail counseling all affected parties and conducting follow-up checks to determine whether the resolution was successful. Supervisors should document the situation, the remedial actions taken, and the improvements noted. If uncertain about how to proceed, contact the EEO Office staff.
Victims of Sexual Harassment
If you are the victim of sexual harassment, you may confront the harasser directly. Describe to him/her the behavior which makes you uncomfortable, how it affects your work and ask that he/she stop the behavior. An effective formula might be: "When you (describe the behavior), I feel (describe feeling, e.g., uncomfortable, embarrassed) and I would like you to stop this behavior now.”
Often the harasser is unaware that the behavior is offensive to anyone. However, if the behavior continues, write a letter describing the situation and your response; again request that the behavior cease. Keep a copy for yourself, and consider sending a copy to the person's supervisor.
If the harassment continues, send copies of your document to the harasser's supervisor. Also notify the EEO Office or the Office of Internal Affairs and record incidents of harassment with dates, places, times and witnesses, if any. Seek support from your co-workers; they may be able to ease your discomfort at work.
If you are uncomfortable about confronting the harasser directly, you may initially contact your supervisor, EEO staff, or Internal Affairs.