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FY 2017 ARS Sexual Harassment Policy
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United States Department of Agriculture


Research, Education, and Economics

Agricultural Research Service





June 20, 2017


SUBJECT:  2017 Sexual Harassment Policy Statement


         TO:  All ARS Employees


    FROM:  Chavonda Jacobs-Young  


The intent of this policy is to inform each employee, contractor , collaborator , applicant , as well as our stakeholders, that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and will not be tolerated.


I take the issue of sexual harassment seriously and any Agricultural Research Service (ARS) employee found guilty of engaging in sexual harassment will be subject to immediate disciplinary action, including demotion, suspension, and/or removal.


What is Sexual Harassment?


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.  Conduct that may not be offensive in a social environment can be offensive at work.


Examples of Sexual Harassment


The following are some examples of actions which could be defined as sexual harassment:



Office of the Administrator

Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building, Room 302-A

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An Equal Opportunity Employer


All ARS Employees                                                                                         


Manager and Supervisor Roles Regarding Sexual Harassment


Preventing sexual harassment is the responsibility of each employee.  Additionally, managers and supervisors must be aware of what constitutes sexual harassment in order to explain the sanctions for violations.  Online training is available through AgLearn, and videos are available from the ARS Office of Outreach, Diversity and Equal Opportunity (ODEO).


Managers and supervisors who either condone or fail to act promptly to correct harassing conduct brought to their attention or retaliate against an employee for reporting or filing a complaint of sexual harassment will be held accountable and appropriate corrective action will be swiftly taken. Each manager and supervisor has the responsibility to (1) set the tone for office conduct and appropriate work place behavior; (2) communicate that sexual harassment will  not be tolerated; (3) take immediate corrective action and follow up with those who report sexual harassment to ensure elimination of the conduct and/or prevent retaliation, and (4) ensure

that all employees have a copy of this policy and display the policy in a prominent place (such as a bulletin board).


Steps to Address Sexual Harassment


Harassing behavior, if ignored or not reported, is likely to continue and become worse rather than go away.  Any person who believes that he or she is a victim of sexual harassment  should immediately make it clear to the harasser that their behavior is inappropriate and unwelcomed and clearly state that their behavior will be reported to the supervisor if the harassment does not stop immediately. If the harasser is your supervisor, report the unwanted action to their supervisor.


How to File a Complaint


If sexual harassment persists or you are not satisfied with the results after reporting the conduct to the supervisor, contact ODEO at 202-720-6161 or 1-800-340-4289 for immediate assistance and guidance.


If you have any questions or need further information or training on the prevention of sexual harassment, contact your Area ODEO Program Manager or the ODEO Director.


It is important to note that it is not how a person intended his or her actions to be taken, but rather how the actions are perceived. All employees and contractors are expected to adhere to this policy to ensure that ARS is an environment free from unwanted sexual harassment and retaliation.