Employee Harassment Policy

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Effective Date: March 1999


I. Policy

The Laboratory is committed to equal opportunity and workforce diversity. It holds supervisors personally responsible for demonstrations of commitment, or lack thereof, to equal opportunity and workforce diversification goals in their evaluation of employee performance.

The Laboratory policy insures that all employment decisions, including those involving hiring, promotions, and compensation will be based on qualifications and performance regardless of an individual's race, color, religion, gender, national origin, marital status, citizenship, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or any other characteristic protected by law or executive order.

The Laboratory recognizes that in order to fully achieve the principles of equal employment opportunity and workforce diversity, it is necessary to go beyond a neutral policy of nondiscrimination and take positive steps to increase opportunities for members of those groups in our society previously excluded from full participation in all levels of employment.

The Laboratory functions under an Affirmative Action Plan. The goal of the Plan is to achieve a representative number of minorities and women in all job categories throughout the Laboratory.

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II. Summary of Employment Discrimination Laws

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a Federal law which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or national origin. This is the broadest of the equal employment opportunity laws and covers such areas of employment as recruitment, hiring, compensation, terms, conditions, discharges, job assignments, training programs, promotions and others. Congress amended this Act in 1972, bringing employers of 15 or more employees under its coverage and increasing significantly the enforcement powers of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Federal agency created by this Act to enforce its provisions.

The EEOC has the authority to conduct investigations of employers, and if conciliation fails, to file a law suit in Federal Court against the employer. Conciliation efforts on the part of the EEOC frequently deal with all employment practices and patterns of a company, rather than just the specific complaint that prompted its action. Also, under this Act, individual employees or groups of employees can file charges with the EEOC and later bring law suits, on their own behalf, against the employer. Substantial back pay awards, wage adjustments, and other financial penalties are possible under this law.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits discrimination against applicants and employees, aged forty or older. This law forbids age discrimination in hiring, compensation, discharge and other major aspects of employment.

Originally, this law was enforced by the Department of Labor. In 1979, enforcement of this law was transferred by Congress to the EEOC. The EEOC has the authority, as did the Department of Labor, to conduct investigations and to file suit in Federal Court if conciliation fails.

Equal Pay Act of 1963

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits employers from paying employees of one gender less than employees of the other gender "for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions."

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect July 1992. The ADA is the most comprehensive piece of legislation since the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Civil Act of 1964. The purpose of this national mandate is to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and to set-up an enforceable standard to address discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Under the basic employment nondiscrimination requirements of Title 1 of the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against qualified applicants and employees on the basis of disability. This prohibition covers all aspects of the employment process, including:

  • Application
  • Testing
  • Hiring
  • Assignment
  • Evaluation
  • Disciplinary action
  • Training
  • Recruitment
  • Promotion
  • Medical examinations
  • Layoff/recall
  • Termination
  • Compensation
  • Leave
  • Benefits
  • Recreational Activities

The Act protects individuals only if they meet the definitions of an individual with a disability and a qualified individual with a disability. A person with a "disability" is an individual who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. "A qualified individual with a disability" is an individual who: meets the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of a position held or desired; and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of a job.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has responsibility for enforcing compliance with Title 1 of the ADA.

In a continuous effort to improve the workforce and to treat all individuals covered under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) equitably, the Laboratory has developed, revised and implemented procedures and forms for all ADA required changes. Managers or supervisors who require assistance with identifying accommodations for a member of their staff should contact the Diversity Manager at ext. 3318. Department or division management along with the Diversity Office, the Human Resources Division, the Plant Engineering Division, and the Occupational Medicine Clinic, will work to arrive at a reasonable accommodation. Our goal is to assure that people with disabilities are fully productive members of their work teams, and have an opportunity to reach their full potential at the Laboratory.

A candidate must be able to perform the essential functions (duties) of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation to secure an employment opening. A job assessment form is used to identify a particular job's essential functions and it must be completed before employment openings can be advertised. To assure that the essential functions of a job are listed with accuracy, shortly after receiving a requisition for hire, an employment representative will meet with the manager or supervisor to review the job duties. Additionally, it is required that hiring managers and supervisors submit the completed job assessment form to the department or division Environmental Safety and Health (ES&H) Coordinator or Human Resources liaison for their review and signature. Directly afterward, it should be returned to the employment representative, to hold on file, to review with potential candidates. These procedures are put in place to ensure nondiscrimination against qualified disabled applicants by providing accessibility, equal opportunity and full participation in employment.

To ensure compliance with the ADA Mandate, employment and medical procedures have been reviewed, revised, and implemented. Additionally, installation of telecommunications devices for the deaf are now operational at several areas on site.

An annual invitation is extended to all employees, who believe they "qualify as an individual with a disability", to contact: Shirley Kendall, Diversity Office Manager (ext. 3318). All information will be treated confidentially, except (1) supervisory and/or safety personnel may be advised of any disability that requires special accommodation or possible emergency treatment and, (2) federal officials investigating BNL's compliance with affirmative action regulations may be informed as required.

The Laboratory is firmly committed to the fulfillment of this landmark legislation. Our goal is to target an effective way to remove the barriers that deny individuals with disabilities the equal access and opportunity to contribute, participate, and share gainful employment and all aspects of the Laboratory's programs and activities.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973

As a federal contractor, the Laboratory is subject to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and is required to take affirmative action in employment for qualified individuals with disabilities.

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III. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious matter, and can interfere with productivity, undermine employee morale and create hostility between employees and management. Whenever sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, supervisors must respond promptly by investigating the issue and determining the action to be taken.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is included as a form of sex discrimination. The basic definition of sexual harassment is: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

This basic definition can be expanded by describing the two different types of sexual harassment that may occur. One type of sexual harassment involves employment conditions, i.e. submission to sexual conduct is made a condition of employment, or if employment decisions such as hire, retention or promotion are based on submission to or rejection of sexual conduct. This type of sexual harassment usually involves someone in a position of authority who can grant or deny a person employment or advancement opportunities.

The other type of sexual harassment involves sexual conduct that interferes with a person's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. This type of sexual harassment may take the form of vulgar and offensive language, jokes, slurs, or other inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature, such as, but not limited to:

  • Showing or displaying pictures with obvious sexual content
  • Using foul language which includes words with sexual overtones
  • Touching or grabbing parts of a person's body in a manner having sexual overtones
  • An invitation to or remarks regarding a sexual relationship.

Supervisory Responsibilities

A complete investigation is necessary for all complaints of sexual harassment. The Diversity Office should be contacted for assistance in conducting the investigation. There should be no judgment that sexual harassment has or has not occurred until all facts have been carefully considered. Process for investigation sexual harassment concerns can be found at this link. Sexual Harassment Procedure (pdf)

In trying to determine if sexual harassment has occurred, the following facts should be considered:

  • Nature of the conduct
  • Number of times the conduct occurred

Overall, the reasonableness of the situation should be considered - that is, would any reasonable woman be offended by this type of conduct?

If it is determined that sexual harassment has occurred, appropriate action should be taken which may include disciplinary action. By taking immediate action when sexual harassment problems occur, supervisors make it clear that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

In dealing with sexual harassment, our goal should be to treat all employees with respect and dignity. Maintaining an environment that is free of sexual harassment is necessary to comply with current laws - moreover, it is common sense and good management. Supervisors are responsible for maintaining such a work environment.

Laboratory Policy on Employee Harassment

Brookhaven National Laboratory intends to maintain a work environment that is free of threatening, intimidating or harassing conduct, including sexual harassment. Any employee who harasses another employee because of race, religion, age, color, gender, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or other reasons will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge. The Laboratory does not condone harassment of any employee by any other employee, supervisor or non-supervisor.

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IV. Employee Discrimination Complaints

A discrimination complaint is an allegation by an employee of unfair treatment in some aspect of employment based upon the individual's race, religion, age, gender, color, national origin, disability, or status as a disabled or Vietnam era veteran or any other characteristic protected by law or executive order.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly prohibits discrimination in employment and holds employers and their managers responsible when discrimination is proven. The Laboratory has established a clear policy of non-discrimination in the work environment.

Discrimination Complaint Process

The cooperation of the supervisor is crucial in resolving discrimination complaints made by an employee. Supervisors become involved by providing all facts and relevant documentation related to the complaint. The facts must indicate objectivity and fair treatment of the employee consistent with Laboratory policy and with the manner in which other employees are treated.

If there is an inconsistency with Laboratory policy, the situation will be resolved and the necessary action to restore the employee will be taken.

Employees are encouraged to bring complaints or concerns to their supervisors to try to resolve the problem at department or division level.

If this is not possible, or if the employee would like advice or assistance in resolving a complaint of unfair practices, they may contact the Diversity Office.

The Diversity Office will investigate the complaint and counsel the employee regarding the fact finding. Should the investigation show an unfair practice, the Diversity Office will work with the employee's management to resolve the problem.

Brookhaven National Laboratory employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have; (1) filed a complaint, assisted or participated in an investigation, compliance review hearing, or any other activity related to the administration of any federal, state, or local law regarding equal employment opportunity; (2) opposed any act or practice made unlawful by any federal, state, or local law requiring equal opportunity, or, (3) exercised any other right protected by federal, state, or local law requiring equal opportunity.

Prevention is the Key

Employee discrimination complaints can be prevented by continuing good supervisory practices.

  1. Be objective - Base decisions on facts that are job-related, not subjective and irrelevant to job performance.
  2. Be consistent - Treat all employees equally in accordance with Laboratory policy.
  3. Document - Keep a written record of decisions made regarding all employees. These records may become crucial in the event of a disagreement at a later date.
  4. Encourage open communication - Maintain a two-way process of communication with employees. As a result, employees will bring potential problem situations to the supervisor. Potential problems can be recognized and often resolved before becoming official complaints.

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Last Modified: March 26, 2012 July 16, 2009

DOE, Office of Science One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

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