It’s Illegal and Unprofessional

By Shirley K. Startzman

    Sexual harassment is illegal: it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment is unethical: it’s wrong and it’s degrading...for the perpetrator, the victim and everyone around them. Sexual harassment is immoral: it is contrary to the accepted practice of leadership in the U.S. Army; it shows weak character in a leader. Sexual harassment is unprofessional: it shows a lack of loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Army and to those who serve. Sexual harassment is a mission detractor: it lowers morale and destroys cohesiveness, trust and sincerity among unit members.

    Army Regulation 600-20, Army Command Policy, defines sexual harassment as a type of sex discrimination. It requires that leaders at all levels take both preventive and appropriate corrective action to combat this unacceptable behavior.

    Any soldier or civilian employee is engaging in sexual harassment who through behavior of a sexual nature attempts to control, influence, or effect the career, pay, or job of a soldier or civilian employee. A person is engaging in sexual harassment if the person makes deliberate or repeated verbal comments or gestures of a sexual nature that are offensive to the person to whom addressed; or makes abusive physical contact of a sexual nature. Simply put, sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention. It is behavior which is inappropriate, violates Army and INSCOMpolicy.

    There are two types of sexual harassment identified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The first type, Quid Pro Quo, is "making the submission to unwelcome sexual advances or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature a term or condition, implicitly or explicitly, of an individual’s employment." It can also take the form of "basing employment decision affecting the individual on his or her submission to, or rejection of, such conduct."

    The second type of sexual harassment is known as Hostile Environment. This type is defined as "making unwelcome sexual advances or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature with the purpose of, or that creates the effect of, unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment."

    Sexual harassment is not limited to the work place; it can occur almost any place.

    If you discover, witness or experience sexual harassment, you must take the lead in stopping it. Confront the perpetrator, get third party intervention and report it. Be assertive and fight back; lead by example. Keep accurate records. If you experience sexual harassment, get the support of a friend; don’t keep the anxiety and stress to yourself. Tell yourself it was not your fault; you did nothing wrong.

    The prevention of sexual harassment is everyone’s concern. Training and education are important to preventing sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. Each person must accept the responsibility of educating others about it and stopping it when they see or experience it.

    Each person must accept others for the value and expertise they bring to the mission. The strength of INSCOM and the U.S. Army lies in diversity; seeing all parts from different perspectives. The future of INSCOM and the U.S. Army lies in respecting one another...doing what is right and honorable.

    Information taken from FM 22-100, "Military Leadership," and the INSCOM Equal Employment Opportunity Manual, "Sexual Harassment Anthology."

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   Last Updated: April 30, 1997