Harassment Prevention - Office of Resolution Management (ORM)
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Office of Resolution Management (ORM)

 

Harassment Prevention

 

 

Office of Resolution Management (ORM)

Harassment Prevention Program (HPP)

“Making your workplace a harassment-free zone” 

 
Contact your local Harassment Prevention Coordinator for training details
(See link for list of Coordinators in Resources section below)

     Question:                                       Answer: 

What is Harassment?

Harassment is any unwelcome verbal, visual or physical conduct based on race, color, national origin, religion, age (40 and above), sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), disability, genetic information, or reprisal for prior EEO activity. Harassment becomes unlawful where:
• Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or
• conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
The conduct covered by this handbook is broader than the above definition of unlawful harassment. Inappropriate and harassing conduct that may not rise to the level of unlawful harassment will also be covered in this handbook.

What is the
Harassment
Prevention Program  (HPP)?

The Harassment Prevention Program is an enterprise-wide department within  the Office of Resolution Management. We provide centralized tracking, monitoring and reporting processes to
proactively respond to allegations of harassment, whether or not accompanied by an EEO basis. We will report harassment allegations to VA leadership in order to ensure that prompt corrective measures are taken to decrease harassing behavior in the workplace. The HPP is responsible for providing education and awareness training on the harassment program. 
Why do
we need 
a
Harassment
Prevention Program?
VA is committed to creating a culture, rooted in our mission
and core values, which engages and inspires employees to
their highest possible level of performance and conduct.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is also responding to
an EEOC mandate to establish enterprise-wide anti-
harassment policies and procedures to ensure allegations
of harassment receive a prompt, thorough, and impartial
investigation; and, that VA takes immediate and appropriate
corrective action when it determines harassment has occurred.
By doing this, VA can proactively prevent harassing conduct
before it becomes severe or pervasive.
How is the
HPP different
from EEO?

The EEO process is designed to make individuals whole for
discrimination that has already occurred through damage
awards and equitable relief paid by the agency, and to
prevent the recurrence of the unlawful discriminatory
conduct. However, the EEO process cannot require an
agency to discipline its employees. Through the HPP,
the anti-harassment process requires that immediate
and appropriate corrective actions are taken to
eliminate harassing conduct regardless of whether
the conduct violated the law or whether an employee
pursues an EEO complaint. The HPP will solely focus
on taking whatever action is necessary to promptly
bring the harassment to an end, or to prevent it from
occurring at all.

When should
I contact the
HPP?

An employee who believes he or she has been subjected
to harassing conduct can report the matter to his or her
immediate supervisor (or second-line supervisor in the
event the first-line supervisor is the alleged harasser);
the Harassment Prevention Coordinator (HPC) for his/her
specific staff office or administrative office; or the
HPP: 1-888-56-NEW VA (1-888-566-3982).

Employees notified by another employee that he/she
is being harassed, should encourage the harassed
employee to take immediate action to stop it by
reporting the harassing conduct; and, if an employee
actually sees or hears another employee being
harassed immediately take the appropriate steps
to report the alleged harassment.

Supervisors or managers who observe or are notified
of harassing conduct are required to assess the
situation immediately and consult with the HPC or
the HPP.

What are
some examples
of  harassment?

Ø  Threatening that rejection of sexual overtures
will affect appointments, promotions, transfers,
or evaluations.

Ø  Creating belittling caricatures or objects
depicting persons of a particular race, national
origin, religion, or other protected category.

Ø  Telling racial or ethnic jokes.

Ø  Teasing, mimicking, or repeatedly
commenting on an individual’s disability,
 accent, or other protected category.

Ø 
Making offensive comments, jokes or
suggestions about an employee’s gender.

Ø  Making obscene or lewd comments,
slurs, jokes, epithets, suggestions, or gestures.

Ø  Commenting on an employee’s body or
sexual characteristics.

Ø  Displaying nude or sexually suggestive
objects, pictures, images, or cartoons.

Ø  Continuing prohibited behavior after
a coworker has objected.

Ø  Laughing at, ignoring, or retaliating
against an employee who complains.

Note:  The conduct must be unwelcome Therefore, the perspective of the recipient – i.e., the person subjected
to the behavior or the person witnessing the behavior
–  as to whether the behavior is viewed as offensive,
demeaning, or hostile is a primary consideration in
determining whether the behavior constitutes
harassing conduct.
 

If I contact the
HPP, will my
information
be kept
confidential?
All reports of hostile or abusive conduct and related information will be maintained on a confidential basis to the greatest extent possible. The identity of the employee alleging violations of the Harassment Prevention Policy will be kept confidential except as
necessary to conduct an appropriate inquiry into the alleged violations or when otherwise required by law. Anonymous allegations of harassment will be investigated and monitored to
the fullest extent possible.
If I contact
the HPP can
I still file an
EEO complaint?
 
Yes.  The harassment prevention procedures do not affect rights under the EEO complaint process. The harassment prevention procedures process is entirely separate and apart from the EEO complaint process. This means that an employee who reports allegations of harassment in accordance with the VA Anti-Harassment Policy has not filed an EEO complaint.  An employee who wishes to file a discrimination complaint should contact an EEO counselor at (888) 566-3982 for more information within 45 days of the alleged harassing conduct.  An employee may report harassment using the HPP procedures and file an EEO complaint simultaneously.
If I change my
mind about going
forward with
allegations through
HPP or EEO,

 what happens? 
The harassment prevention procedures are entirely separate from the EEO complaints process. If an employee chooses to withdraw his or her EEO complaint, the employee can still move forward with the HPP harassment allegation. A harassment allegation reported to the HPP cannot be withdrawn.  A harassment inquiry, appropriate
corrective actions, and outcome reporting to the HPP are still required by management.
Can I file a
report for
bullying with
the HPP?
Yes, employees who believe that they have been bullied can contact the HPP office.

Is there a
point of contact in my office with
harassment prevention
information and
what is his/her
role in assisting
me with reporting
 harassment?

Yes. The Harassment Prevention Coordinator (HPC) for your specific office serves as the local Point of Contact (POC) for all allegations of harassing conduct. The HPC will record your allegations and assist managers and supervisors with addressing each allegation. The HPC ensures that prompt and appropriate corrective actions are taken if harassing conduct has occurred. And, the HPC will maintain all harassment records and report inquiry and corrective outcomes to the HPP.


Is there a specific
timeline requirement
to call the HPP
with a harassment
complaint?
Management cannot eliminate harassment in the workplace
if it does not know it exists. Therefore, it is the employees’ responsibility to report harassment as soon as they believe management action is needed.  If an employee has
made the harasser aware of the unwanted conduct and the harassment persists, employees should report the unwanted behavior  immediately.
Can non-VA
employees
call the HPP?
Veterans, applicants, federal and non-federal employees can call the HPP: 1-888-566-3982.  An HPP Specialist will help callers determine if harassment allegations are covered by VA’s anti-harassment policy and procedures, and whether any other avenues exist to address the concerns.
What is the
role of
managers,
supervisors
and union?

Managers and supervisors are responsible for maintaining a work environment free of harassment.  Managers or supervisors who observe or are made aware of allegations of harassing conduct are required to act promptly, effectively, and in accordance with the
VA’s anti-harassment policy and procedures to determine the scope of the alleged harassing conduct and take corrective action as appropriate and necessary. The HPP is committed to establishing transparency and accountability at every employment level.

Union officials are responsible for encouraging employees to report harassment and cooperate with the inquiry process; advising employees of their rights based on VA’s harassment prevention policy; and reporting harassment as soon as possible.

Where can I get
more information
about the HPP?
Contact HPP at 1-888-56-NEW VA (1-888-566-3982) from 8am - 4:30pm in all time zones.

                                                        Resources                      

 Harassment Prevention Program Flowchart

What Supervisors Need to Know

What HP Coordinators Need to Know

What Employees Need to Know

What Management & Unions Need to Know

Sexual Harassment Checklist

Training Request Form

 Facts About Sexual Harassment

List of Harassment Prevention Coordinators

 EEOC Select Task Force Study

Secretary's Memorandum

 EEOC Information on Harassment

                                          Contact Us:  (888) 566-3982