U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of the Surgeon General
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FAQ

Questions

What is unlawful discrimination?

What is sexual harassment?

What should I do if I think I'm being discriminated against or sexually harassed?

What happens if someone files an unwarranted discrimination complaint against me?

If someone means no harm by "friendly" behavior and "harmless" joking, can he or she still be guilty of sexual harassment or discrimination?

Why do we have ethnic observances?

 

Answers

What is unlawful discrimination?

Any action that results in unequal treatment on the basis of color, national origin, race, religion, or sex that is not otherwise authorized by law or regulation.  If civilian, unlawful discrimination can also be based on handicapping condition and age.

What is sexual harassment?

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 of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's job, pay, or career (quid pro quo harassment).

         Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person (also quid pro quo harassment).

         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.

(Note:   "Workplace" is an expansive term for military members and may include conduct on or off duty, 24 hours a day.)

 

What should I do if I think I'm being discriminated against or sexually harassed?

To help combat discrimination and sexual harassment in your work environment do not ignore the problem.  Instead, use any (or all) of the following strategies:

         Speak with the offender.  Stay focused on the behavior and its impact. Be courteous and not disrespectful.

         Keep records.  For each event, include the following information:   date, time, place, what happened, and the names of any witnesses.

         Ask others.  Ask another person to talk to the individual involved or accompany you.  Consider asking others if they have experienced similar treatment from the offender.

         Use the chain of command.  Go to your supervisor or any other member of your chain of command and ask for their assistance.

         Use an outside agency.  If necessary, go to an outside agency such as Social Actions or the installation Chief Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor for guidance and assistance.

What happens if someone files an unwarranted discrimination complaint against me?

The complaint clarification process is designed to find out the facts.  If the allegations are not warranted, the complaint clarification process will determine so.  You can protect yourself against unwarranted allegations by cultivating a reputation for not telling or tolerating sexual or racial jokes and inappropriate comments or innuendo. 

 

If someone means no harm by "friendly" behavior and "harmless" joking can he or she still be guilty of sexual harassment or discrimination?

Yes.  The determination of whether a behavior is sexual harassment or discrimination is based on how it is received, not how it is intended.  If the behavior is sexual in nature and has the effect of creating a hostile or offensive work environment, it is sexual harassment.  If it demeans someone based on race, sex, national origin, religion, or color, it is discrimination.

 

Why do we have ethnic observances?

Ethnic/Special observances are annual events whose goal is to go beyond recognition and encourage interaction and teamwork between the diverse groups making up the military community.  By learning about the accomplishments and contributions of all groups, these observances help to break down barriers between people which hinder mission readiness.