Facts About Sexual Harassment

Facts About Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct 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.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

·        The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.

·        The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

·        The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

·        Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.

·        The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.


It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on sex or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII.

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Cultural Diversity in the Workplace, Part 1

Cultural Diversity in the Workplace, Part 1


4 Essential Skills

by Dr. Richard T. Alpert, Ph.D.

From our increasingly diverse domestic workforce to the globalization of business, cultural competence is arguably the most important skill for effective work performance in the 21st century.

What is cultural diversity in the workplace? Culture refers to the 7 Essentials of Workplace Cultural Competence: the values, norms, and traditions that affect the way a member of a group typically perceives, thinks, interacts, behaves, and makes judgments. It even affects perceptions of time, which can impact day-to-day scheduling and deadlines.

Cultural competence, in brief, is the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures. This ability depends on awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, knowledge of other cultural practices and worldviews, tolerant attitudes towards cultural differences, and cross-cultural skills.

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The more different cultures work together, the more cultural competency training is essential to avoid problems.  Cultural problems can range from miscommunication to actual conflict, all endangering effective worker productivity and performance, as explored in this video about challenges of culturally diverse teams at work.

Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures, and work with varying cultural beliefs and schedules. While there are myriad cultural variations, here are some essential to the workplace:

1. Communication: Providing information accurately and promptly is critical to effective work and team performance. This is particularly important when a project is troubled and needs immediate corrective actions. However, people from different cultures vary in how, for example, they relate to bad news. People from some Asian cultures are reluctant to give supervisors bad news – while those from other cultures may exaggerate it.

2. Team-Building: Some cultures – like the United States – are individualistic, and people want to go it alone. Other cultures value cooperation within or among other teams. Team-building issues can become more problematic as teams are comprised of people from a mix of these cultural types. Effective cross-cultural team-building is essential to benefiting from the potential advantages of cultural diversity in the workplace

3. Time: Cultures differ in how they view time. For example, they differ in the balance between work and family life, and the workplace mix between work and social behavior. Other differences include the perception of overtime, or even the exact meaning of a deadline. Different perceptions of time can cause a great misunderstanding and mishap in the workplace, especially with scheduling and deadlines. Perceptions of time underscore the importance of cultural diversity in the workplace, and how it can impact everyday work.

4. Schedules:  Work can be impact by cultural and religious events affecting the workplace. The business world generally runs on the western secular year, beginning with January 1 and ending with December 31. But some cultures use wildly different calendars to determine New Years or specific holy days. For example, Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on a different day from western Christians. For Muslims, Friday is a day for prayer. Jews observe holidays ranging from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. These variations affect the workplace as people require time off to observe their holidays.


So how does one develop cultural competence? Be sure to enjoy part 2 of this article Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace. This exclusive article explores 4 more components of cultural diversity in the workplace, and strategies, skills and techniques for helping people develop cultural competence.

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Cultural Diversity in the Work Place

US Economy

Cultural Diversity in the Work Place

How Diversity at Work Makes More Money for You

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Diversity in age, race, and gender strengthens a team. Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images


US Economy

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By Kimberly Amadeo

Updated June 10, 2017

Definition: Cultural diversity is when differences in race, ethnicity, age, ability, language, nationality, socioeconomic status, gender, religion or sexual orientation are represented within a community. The community can be a country, region, city, neighborhood, company or school. The group is culturally diverse if a wide variety of groups are represented. Cultural diversity has become a hot-button issue when applied to the workplace.

Why does cultural diversity matter? It can benefit a workplace. People with different backgrounds have different interpretations of events. They contribute unique perspectives. That allows the group to look at problems from all angles and create innovative results.

For diversity to bring strength, it must be valued and integrated into company practices and philosophy. This takes time and a commitment to celebrate diversity. It requires the willingness to be open-minded and non-judgmental about the value of differences.

Without that commitment, cultural diversity can weaken a group. Differences in interpretation of events can lead to miscommunication. If not addressed, awkwardness and hostilities arise. Prejudices will worsen that effect. People can jump to conclusions and misinterpret behaviors.

Economic Benefits

When it works, diversity increases profits. Each year, DiversityInc selects the 50 most diverse companies.

The 43 that were public corporations were 24 percent more profitable than the S&P 500. They made up just 7 percent of the Fortune 500 but generated 22 percent of its total revenue.

How does diversity drive profitability? The European Union Commission studied 200 companies in 2003. It found three areas where diversity mattered:

  1. Marketing – Having a diverse workforce builds trust in your brand with a diverse target market.
  2. Operations – Valuing diversity cuts costs by reducing turnover and absenteeism. It also avoids legal expenses. How? It enhances employee engagement by showing the company understands and respects different cultures. Valuing diversity also gives the company freedom to go after the most talented people, regardless of differences.
  3. Innovation –  Diversity within a product development team is very powerful. When it's in sync with diverse target markets, the team creates new products that satisfy the markets' needs. That's because a diverse workforce better understands diverse markets. For example, Daimler/Chrysler found the best mix for a product development team was heterogeneous. It was 50:50 male/female. It had a gradual age distribution rather than peaks. No more than half of any team was any one ethnic group or nationality.  

For the individual, it literally pays to be on a diverse team. Wharton Business School Research found that members of successful diverse teams earn more.

Embracing diversity also cuts down on legal costs. That's because it's illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their cultural diversity.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission promotes equal opportunity and handles complaints about workplace discrimination. Federal laws prohibit workplace discrimination in six areas. These are age, disability, national origin, race, religion and gender. 

How to Manage Diversity

Stereotypes can create destructive communication. Team members may be prejudiced against each other. It may take longer for the teams to perform, but it's worth it. Once the team bonds, the diversity makes it more innovative and raises performance. Result? Higher salaries, bonuses and even stock options for everyone on the team. 

Wharton Business School consultant Pamela Tudor found the key to managing diversity. Members of the team must be dedicated to a shared goal. She found that this commitment to a common goal overcame any diversity issues.

Diverse teams must be supported by departments that unite employees around the shared goal. This is more likely in growth-oriented companies. They know they must embrace diversity to fuel the innovation that is their competitive advantage


Johnson and Johnson is No. 5 on DiversityInc's top 50 list. It has 58 percent of its operations outside the United States. Its nine-member board of directors is diverse. It contains two African-Americans and two women. There are four women, an African-American and a Hispanic in its 13-member executive team. Half of the top 10 percent highest-paid employees are women. The company also offers great benefits to same-sex domestic partners. J&J was ranked as the 17th most LGBT-friendly company by GlassDoor. (Source: “Top 50 List,” DiversityInc.)

Google has 80 percent of the global search market share. It covers more than 200 countries. Its mission is to “Facilitate access to information for the entire world, and in every language.” There are 4,000 languages.

Fortunately, Google can reach 99.3 percent of internet users with only 40 languages. The most popular languages are Mandarin Chinese (882 million), Spanish (325 million) and English (312 million). It launched the 40-Language Initiative to accomplish this. It was successful because it truly valued the diversity in different countries. It realized it must speak the language to reach the market. That includes understanding the cultural differences inherent in the language. Google's diversity motto is “Never judge a search engine by its interface.” That's Googlese for “Never judge a people by their appearance.” In addition, Google was ranked as the third-most LGBT-friendly company by GlassDoor in 2014.

Why Diversity Is Growing

Emerging global trends are driving the growing economic power of a diverse workforce. In just 30 years, whites will be the minority in the United States. Babies being born now will belong to the first post-white generation in America.

China and India combined provide one-third of the global workforce. Since 2000, 1 million IT jobs were outsourced to India. Why? Both countries are obsessed with educating their people. In 1990, China had 610,000 college graduates. In 2010, this grew to 5 million. The No. 1 supercomputer in the world is in Tianjin, China. China's economic growth is designed to create a prosperous middle class and avoid revolutions.  (Source: "A New Business Imperative: Managing the 21st Century Workforce," Kronos Inc. July 2005.)

In the $913 billion African American market, buying power is up 55 percent, while the population increased just 10 percent. Why? Today, over 80 percent of African Americans have completed high school or college. That's up from 62 percent in 1990. Similarly, the Hispanic market has $980 billion in buying power. (Sources: "African-Americans Revealed," BET Networks. "Hispanic Buying Power to Reach $1.3 Trillion," Multicultural Digital Media News.)

The buying power of the LGBT market is $830 billion as of 2015.  A Syracuse University study found that gay household income was $65,000, higher than the U.S. median of $40,800.  Why? Again, education. Ninety percent were college grads. How well a company values diversity is important to this group. When job hunting, 90 percent consider how a company treats its LGBT employees and whether they sponsor LGBT events. (Source: "Understanding the Multi-Billion Dollar LGBT Market," Florida State University, April 20, 2015.)


The buying power of Gen X (born 1965-80) and Millennials (born 1981-2000) is $1 trillion. They grew up in a diverse society and celebrate it. For them, valuing diversity is assumed. In 2015, 73 percent of Millennials supported gay marriage. (Source: "Most Young Americans Overwhelmingly Support Gay Marriage," Boston Globe, 

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Workplace Violence Handbook



The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is committed to ensuring adequate safety for the security of its employees. While the USGS is proud of its safe workplaces, we are concerned about the reality of violence in society and its potential occurrence in our workplaces. In recent years, we have all become more aware of violence and threatening behavior in American workplaces. Violence in the workplace can have devastating effects on the productivity of organizations and on the quality of life of employees.

We must take all reasonable steps to protect ourselves and others in the workplace from violent incidents that may result in injury or harm and also to protect Government and personal property. By working together, we can ensure that the USGS establishes and maintains a work environment that is safe and healthy for all.

This handbook provides you with guidance for responding appropriately to violence, threats, reports of threats, or questions that arise in these situations. At the end of the handbook are appendices that provide guidance on dealing with violent situations, a list of resources for additional information, and a sample emergency contact information sheet.


All employees are responsible for maintaining a safe work environment. Acts of violence or threats of violence, either explicit or veiled, verbal or written, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the workplace. This includes harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior. All reports of incidents will be taken seriously and will be dealt with appropriately. Further, possession of firearms, ammunition, and dangerous or deadly weapons in USGS controlled or occupied space is prohibited by law, except for those individuals who are authorized to carry firearms.


Threatening Behavior is an individual's threat, either overt or implied, to commit an act of physical aggression or harm at the workplace. Examples include, but are not limited to:

§  Threats to cause bodily harm or death to another person (including stalking, bullying, or other abusive or aggressive behavior);

§  Threats to commit sabotage or destroy, damage, or deface government or personal property located at the workplace;

§  Making harassing or threatening phone calls; and

§  Unusual, bizarre, or menacing behavior or statements that a reasonable person would interpret as carrying the potential for violent acts.

Workplace violence is any act or attempted act of physical aggression or harm by an individual that occurs at the workplace. Examples include, but are not limited to:

§  Causing or attempting to cause bodily harm or death to another person;

§  Acting or attempting to sabotage, destroy, damage, or deface government or personal property in the workplace; and

§  Possession of unlawful and unauthorized weapons in the workplace.


We all have a responsibility to ensure that USGS remains a safe place to work. Specific responsibilities are spelled out below.

Assessment and Response Team (ART) is a team responsible for evaluating our current ability to handle incidents, assessing the seriousness of a threat or violence problem, and developing response options. The ART will vary in size and composition based on the size and location of each office and the circumstances of any incident. Ideally, membership of the team will include an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor, security personnel (where available), and a staff member from the Office of Human Resources. Depending on the circumstances, a staff member from the external affairs office, the headquarters or regional safety managers, supervisors, division human resources personnel, and bargaining unit representatives may participate in the ART. In larger offices, an ART should be established within 90 days of the publication of this handbook and should meet to evaluate the ability to respond to incidents; after the initial meeting, the ART will meet annually and in response to any violent or threatening behavior. In offices where there are no security or EAP personnel, management should evaluate the current ability to handle incidents, consulting with the Federal Protective Service or local law enforcement, within 90 days of the issuance of this handbook. Should violence or threatening behavior occur in those offices, the Federal Protective Service or local law enforcement should be contacted for an immediate response, and the Office of Human Resources consulted as to appropriate follow up actions.

Bargaining Unit representatives are responsible for reporting threats, suspicious activities, or acts of violence to management. Where bargaining unit employees are involved in threatening or violent activities, either as a participant in violence or as a victim or witness, bargaining unit representatives will serve as members of the Assessment and Response Team.

Employees are responsible for reporting threats, suspicious activities, or acts of violence to their supervisor, regardless of the relationship between the individual who initiated the threat or threatening behavior and the person who was threatened or was the focus of the violent behavior. It does not matter when or where the threats occurred. Employees reporting threats shall not be subject to interference, coercion, discrimination, penalty, censure, or reprisal as a result of these reports. Employees are encouraged to provide their supervisors with updated emergency contact information; a sample form that may be used for that purpose is shown in Appendix 3.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is responsible for consulting with management and the Human Resources Office on an appropriate response plan, and for providing short-term counseling and referral services to employees. EAP counselors will serve on the Assessment and Response Team and assist in determining the severity of any threat and the appropriate response to the threat. If the EAP counselor learns that an employee is at imminent risk for violence, he/she will notify the appropriate authorities for action.

Federal Protective Service (FPS) or local Security personnel, where available, are responsible for taking necessary actions to ensure the safety of the workplace. This includes, but is not limited to, providing first response to violent acts, contacting local law enforcement offices for immediate response as needed in individual circumstances, denying access to USGS facilities to individuals who pose a clear threat, and obtaining information as needed to make an assessment of an individual's potential for violent behavior. Local security personnel will serve on the Assessment and Response Team and provide advice and guidance to managers and employees on precautionary actions they should take in cases of threats or violence. Where FPS and security personnel are not available, their role may be fulfilled by local law enforcement as appropriate.

Servicing Human Resources Offices are responsible for consulting with employees, supervisors, and managers when threats or violence have occurred and will assist managers in taking appropriate corrective action. They will convene a meeting of the Assessment and Response Team in response to any reported threat or violent act. In addition, servicing Human Resources Offices will provide periodic training to managers and supervisors on appropriate responses to threatening and violent behavior.

Supervisors and managers are responsible for evaluating, investigating, and taking immediate appropriate action, consistent with this handbook, when threats or violence have occurred in the workplace. They should ensure that employees understand their responsibility to report threatening remarks or behavior. Management should refer employees who are experiencing personal problems that may be impacting their performance or conduct to the EAP; however, employee participation is entirely voluntary. Supervisors and managers will serve as needed on the Assessment and Response Team.

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No one can always predict when a human being will become violent. There is no absolute specific profile of a potentially dangerous individual; however, indicators of increased risk of violent behavior are available. Some of these indicators may include, but are not limited to:

§  Direct or veiled threats of harm;

§  Intimidating, belligerent, harassing, bullying, or other inappropriate and aggressive behavior;

§  Numerous conflicts with supervisors and other employees;

§  Bringing a weapon to the workplace, brandishing a weapon in the workplace, making inappropriate references to guns, or a fascination with weapons;

§  Statements showing a fascination with incidents of workplace violence, statements indicating approval of the use of violence to resolve a problem, or statements indicating identification with perpetrators of workplace violence;

§  Statements indicating desperation (over family, financial or other personal problems) to the point of committing suicide;

§  Drug/alcohol abuse; and

§  Extreme changes in behavior.

Each of these behaviors indicates the potential for escalation of violent behavior. None should be ignored. By identifying the problem and dealing with it appropriately, we may be able to prevent violence from happening. Employees who recognize these behaviors in themselves are encouraged to seek assistance from the Employee Assistance Program or their family physician. Any employees who notice the above indicators in coworkers should notify their supervisors. Supervisors who have seen the above indicators in an employee, or have received a report from one employee regarding another, should immediately contact their servicing Human Resources Office for advice and assistance in determining the appropriate course of action.


The following types of behavior are unacceptable, will not be tolerated and require appropriate actions by managers and supervisors. Employees who exhibit this type of behavior will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, which could include removal from the Federal Service. Employees may also be placed on administrative leave or detailed to another position or office. The employee will also be referred to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP); although such participation is voluntary, an employee's participation in EAP counseling may mitigate the severity of any penalty arising out of the behavior. Supervisors must contact their servicing Human Resources Office for advice and guidance on the appropriate action.

Threats may be direct statements such as "I am going to kill you," or veiled statements such as "Something bad will happen to someone," "I'm afraid I may hurt someone," or "I think about killing myself." Some of the ways employees may receive threats include:

§  Remarks made directly to the target of the threat orally, either in person or through telephone calls;

§  Remarks made to one person about another; or

§  Remarks made in letters, notes, or electronic messages.

When you are aware of such threatening remarks, do not ignore the information, even if you do not personally believe the threat is serious. Employees who receive or witness threatening remarks must report them to their supervisors; supervisors must immediately contact their servicing Human Resources Office, which will convene the Assessment and Response Team. The Assessment and Response Team will evaluate the situation, determine the seriousness of the threat and determine the appropriate action.

Intimidating or harassing remarks may not actually contain a threat. However, these type of remarks can create a hostile work environment and must be addressed. Employees should report such remarks to their immediate supervisors or higher level management, who should contact their servicing Human Resources Office for advice and guidance on the appropriate action.

Intimidating, harassing, or confrontational behavior can include such things as physically crowding, stalking, or directing menacing looks or gestures at an individual to create fear. Such actions are inappropriate and will not be tolerated. When ignored, they can escalate to more serious problems. Employees should report intimidating or harassing behavior to their supervisors. Supervisors should contact their servicing Human Resources Office for advice and guidance on the appropriate action.

Irrational or inappropriate behavior often bothers others and can be extremely disruptive. These behaviors may be a warning sign of violence or may be indicative of other problems. Examples of irrational or inappropriate behaviors may include unwelcome name calling, use of obscene language, throwing objects and the like. Employees should notify their supervisors when they witness or are the object of irrational or inappropriate behavior; supervisors should contact their servicing Human Resources Office for advice on the actions needed to respond to such behavior.


Violence in the Workplace

Any violent act in the workplace must be immediately addressed. In an emergency situation, secure your own safety and then call security personnel or the local police. If you can safely do so, keep the involved parties calm and separated until help arrives. Medical attention should be obtained for any injured individuals. The servicing Human Resources Office should be immediately notified of the incident and will convene the Assessment and Response Team.

The Federal Protective Service (FPS), security personnel, or local law enforcement must immediately be contacted if it is reported that an employee or visitor has a firearm or other dangerous weapon at the worksite. Do not attempt to disarm the individual yourself.

If the violent individual is an employee, he/she must immediately be removed from the workplace and placed on administrative leave pending a determination of the appropriate response to the violent act. The employee's identification and any access keys should be confiscated to ensure that the person can not enter the workplace again without agency permission; where possible, this should be done by the FPS, security personnel or local law enforcement.. The violent individual will be subject to discipline, up to and including removal from the Federal service. He/she may also be subject to criminal penalties; in such cases the employee may be indefinitely suspended without pay pending resolution of the criminal charges.

If the violent individual is a visitor, he/she will be removed from USGS premises by the FPS, security personnel or local law enforcement and will be subject to criminal penalties.

Individuals who witness a violent act in the workplace should make as many observations as they can about the incident. These observations and any actions taken in response to the act should be documented when safely possible; this documentation should be in writing and dated. Copies of these notes should be given to security personnel and the servicing Human Resources Office. These notes may provide valuable information and will be useful when proposing or taking corrective or precautionary measures.

The EAP will be available for critical incident counseling for employees who witness or are the subject of the violent behavior. Such counseling may consist of group meetings or individual employee sessions. Employees will be allowed administrative leave to attend such sessions.

Off-Duty Violence/Threats

If an employee commits a violent act or engages in threatening behavior while off-duty, the response to such off-duty conduct will depend on the type and severity of the violence, and its nexus, or connection, to the employee's USGS position. Each case of off-duty violence or threats will need to be individually evaluated. If the behavior is clearly related to the workplace, it will be treated as it occurred on duty. A supervisor who learns of an employee's off-duty violence must immediately contact the servicing Human Resources Office. The servicing Human Resources Office will provide advice on the appropriate action.

Domestic Violence

The effects of domestic violence can show up at work in the form of reduced productivity, absenteeism, and increased risk of violence in the workplace. Any employee who has obtained an order or protection or restraining order against an individual should notify the Federal Protective Service or security personnel and, where possible, provide them with a picture of that individual. In cases where there is a clear threat to workplace safety the Assessment and Response Team will be convened as needed. Employees who are victims of domestic violence can contact the EAP counselor or their supervisor for assistance. Supervisors, team leaders, and co-workers who suspect an employee is being abused at home can contact their supervisor or the EAP for assistance. Further, information is available in the Office of Human Resources Management (OPM) Guidebook: Responding to Domestic Violence: Where Federal Employees Can Find Help; copies can be obtained from your servicing Human Resources Office or on line from OPM at the address shown in Appendix 2.

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Following any threat or violence incidence, the Assessment and Response Team will review the response(s) to the situation to assess the appropriateness of the response and determine what could have been done better. They will also determine what preventive measures should be implemented to prevent or lessen the impact of a similar incident. Management will be advised of the results of this review.

Anyone exposed to threatening or violent events, at or away from work, needs support from family, co-workers, and management. When they receive this support, they may feel less isolated, distrustful, and withdrawn. Active support tends to promote increased commitment, productivity, and better recovery. Individual or group counseling sessions may be necessary for some individuals. The EAP and servicing Human Resources Office can help supervisors and employees choose appropriate post-violence activities.

Appendix 1 - Emergency Response Checklist

Appendix 2 - Resources


Appendix 3 - Emergency Information Sheet

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DOL Workplace Violence Program - Appendices

DOL Workplace Violence Program - Appendices

Table of Contents

·        DOL Workplace Violence Program

·        Definitions

·        Policies, Regulations, and Laws Related to Workplace Violence for Federal Employers

·        Federal Laws Which Govern Crimes, Criminal Procedures, Extortion, and Threats Against Federal

·        Workplace Violence Resources

·        List of Emergency Numbers


These definitions are provided for use in the context of this document and should not be construed as legal definitions.

Assault. To attack someone physically or verbally, causing bodily or emotional injury, pain, and/or distress. This might involve the use of a weapon, and includes actions such as hitting, punching, pushing, poking, or kicking.

Dangerous Weapon. A device, instrument, or substance that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury. These include guns, knives, clubs, chemicals, and explosive devices.

Department of Labor Facility. A building, or part thereof, including grounds and parking lots, utilized or under the control of, assigned to, or leased by or on behalf of the Department and/or its components where its employees or contractors are present for the purpose of performing their official duties. formerly The Dependent Care Connection (DCC). A professional resource and referral service available to all DOL employees to help employees find providers, information, and resources needed to manage their personal and professional responsibilities. services are voluntary, confidential, and provided at no cost to employees.

Domestic Violence. A reference to acts of physical and psychological violence, including harassing or intimidating behavior, that occur as part of personal relationships. Included in the concept of domestic violence are spousal abuse, abuse among intimates, as well as sexual and physical abuse of children, elderly, or the infirm.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP). A professional assessment, referral, and short-term counseling service available to all DOL employees and, in some situations, to their family members to help with personal problems such as substance abuse, financial pressures, job stress, and family dysfunction which may be affecting work performance. EAP services are voluntary, confidential, and provided at no cost to the employee.

Functional Area Experts. Functional area experts include: Security Guard, Safety and Health Manager, Employee Assistance Program Representative, Health Unit Representative, Agency Supervisor/Manager, Alternative Dispute Resolution Trained Neutral, Union Representative, Office of the Solicitor Representative, Building Management Representative, and Public Affairs Representative. Depending on the situation, an expert(s), located in the National and ten Regional Offices, may be called upon to assist employees, supervisors, and managers to resolve, defuse, assess, investigate, and/or respond to a violent or potentially violent situation.

Intimidating or Harassing Behavior. Threats or other conduct which in any way create a hostile environment, impair agency operations; or frighten, alarm, or inhibit others. Psychological intimidation or harassment includes making statements which are false, malicious, disparaging, derogatory, rude, disrespectful, abusive, obnoxious, insubordinate, or which have the intent to hurt others' reputations. Physical intimidation or harassment may include holding, impeding or blocking movement, following, stalking, touching, or any other inappropriate physical contact or advances.

Local Authorities. Municipal, county, state, and Federal law enforcement (having local responsibilities); or public safety personnel, such as police, fire fighters, arson investigators, bomb/threat investigators, etc., of the civil jurisdictions where Department facilities are located or acts of violence occur.

Sabotage. An act to destroy, damage, incapacitate, or contaminate property, equipment, supplies, or data (e.g., hard copy files and records, computerized information, etc.); to cause injury, illness, or death to humans; or to interfere with, disrupt, cripple, disable, or hinder the normal operations or missions of the Department of Labor.

Stalking. A malicious course of conduct that includes approaching or pursuing another person with intent to place that person in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death to him/herself or to a third party.

Threat. Any oral or written expression or gesture that could be interpreted by a reasonable person as conveying an intent to cause physical harm to persons or property. Statements such as, "I'll get him" or "She won't get away with this" could be examples of threatening expressions depending on the facts and circumstances involved.

Workplace Violence. An action (verbal, written, or physical aggression) which is intended to control or cause, or is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury to oneself or others, or damage to property. Workplace violence includes abusive behavior toward authority, intimidating or harassing behavior, and threats.

Policies, Regulations, and Laws Related to Workplace Violence for Federal Employers

This section outlines some of the more relevant DOL policies, laws, and regulations related to violence in the workplace.

DOL Policy on Violence in the Workplace

The Department's policy is to promote a safe environment for our employees and the visiting public, and to work with our employees to maintain a work environment that is free from violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior. The Department's position in this area is that violence or threats of violence — in all forms — is unacceptable behavior. Violence in any form will not be tolerated and will be dealt with appropriately. Employees at all levels are encouraged to report threatening or intimidating behavior to the appropriate authorities in and outside the Department.

Disciplinary and Adverse Actions:

Increasingly, employee and labor relations staff are being asked to handle cases involving the discipline of employees who threaten or actually commit violent acts in this Department. Since this is often a complex issue, employee and labor relations staff need to know how to analyze various warning signs and behaviors to determine whether an employee is a threat and how to react appropriately. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Employee Health Services Policy Center, has developed guidelines which discusses available disciplinary and non-disciplinary personnel actions, disability retirement, and reasonable accommodation for these types of cases. It also periodically publishes current case law with regard to violence in the workplace and sponsors programs where current case law is discussed.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP):

The Employee Assistance Program is governed by a series of laws and Federal regulations, including Public Law 79-658 (which authorizes Federal agencies to operate programs to promote and maintain employees' physical and mental health) and Public Laws 91-616 and 92-255 (which requires development of appropriate programs to treat and rehabilitate employees with alcohol and/or drug problems.) Confidentiality of client records is governed by the Privacy Act (5 USC 552a) and 42 CFR Part 2. Additional legislation has also given EAP a role under the Drug-Free Workplace Act. The EAP is designed to (1) help employees resolve personal issues — e.g., emotional concerns, alcohol/drug problems, family/relationship and/or financial issues — which may adversely impact job performance or conduct; and (2) help managers and supervisors deal effectively with employees whose job performance, attendance, and/or conduct is not acceptable. The EAP can help by providing professional consultation to the manager/supervisor and/or union steward, and problem assessment, short-term counseling and/or referral to appropriate community treatment resources to the employees. The EAP can help prevent problems by assisting workgroups (as well as individual employees) with such issues as stress and grief, and can also assist victims of threatening or violent behavior by providing counseling and referral for service. Assistance for entire workgroups can also be provided or arranged for by the EAP after a traumatic incident.

Medical Examinations:

Supervisors often want to know if the agency can order a medical/psychiatric examination when an employee demonstrates bizarre, threatening, or violent behavior. Agencies may offer an examination at any time they believe there may be a medical or psychiatric reason for unacceptable behavior. However, they may order a general medical exam only in these situations:

·        when the position has medical standards/physical requirements;

·        when the agency has an approved ongoing medical evaluation program (such as OSHA and MSHA);

·        in continuation of pay/workers' compensation cases to assist in placement efforts; and

·        in reduction-in-force actions if the new position to which the employee would have placement rights has different medical standards than the one currently occupied by the employee.

A psychiatric examination (including a psychological assessment) may be ordered only when a general medical examination, properly ordered, indicates no physical explanation for behavior or actions which may affect the safe and efficient work of the individual or others, or when such an examination is specifically required by the position.

Standards of Ethical Conduct:

Threatening or intimidating behavior and violent acts may be viewed as a job conduct problem. In these situations, the Standards of Ethical Conduct may influence sanctions imposed concerning the conduct. The Standards were promulgated by the Office of Government Ethics (most recently in February 1993) to ensure that the business of Federal agencies is conducted effectively, objectively, and without improper influence or the appearance of improper influence. The purpose of the Standards is to ensure that government employees are persons of integrity and observe high standards of honesty, impartiality, and behavior.

Federal Property Management Regulations:

These regulations are promulgated by the General Services Administration (GSA). The regulations contain several provisions prohibiting disruptive conduct in Federal facilities. The regulations prohibit the creation of hazards as well as disturbances of all kinds that disrupt the performance of official job duties. It prohibits the possession or use of firearms and other dangerous weapons on a Federally owned or leased facility, including grounds, parking lots, and buildings, or in a government-owned or leased vehicle.

Federal law states in part:

Whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility, or attempts to do so, shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined, or both. (Certain exceptions apply 18 U.S.C. Section 930(c).) Whoever with intent that a firearm or other dangerous weapon be used in the commission of a crime, knowingly possesses or causes to be present such firearm or dangerous weapon, in a Federal facility, or attempts to do so, shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined, or both.

Any Department of Labor employee who violates prohibitions on possession of weapons in Department facilities or while on official government business will be prosecuted and/or appropriately disciplined (up to and including removal from Federal service). (In addition, DLMS Chapter 1600, dated March 17, 1999, directly addresses possession of firearms by Department of Labor employees, and stipulates that only authorized employees can carry or transport firearms while on official duty.)

Title 41, Chapter 101 Federal Property Management Regulations, of the Code of Federal Regulations also prohibits the use of alcohol and illegal drugs and intoxication at work. Any DOL employee who violates prohibitions on the use of alcohol and illegal drugs and intoxication at work may be appropriately disciplined (up to and including removal from Federal service).

Physical protection and building security requirements are also provided under these regulations.

Workers' Compensation:

The role of workers' compensation is significant in workplace violence. Injuries resulting from personal disputes are typically judged compensable, no matter how unusual. But an employee's injury is covered under workers' compensation only if the dispute leading to the injury is related to the employment. In other words, the employee must have been acting within the scope of his or her job when the injury occurred for the injury to be compensable. The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs makes determinations regarding whether injuries are compensable.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is a comprehensive anti-discrimination statute that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in private, state, and local government employment, and in the provision of public accommodations, public transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The purposes of the ADA are to provide a clear national mandate to end discrimination against individuals with disabilities (physical and mental) and to provide strong, consistent, and enforceable standards prohibiting discrimination against such individuals. For the most part, the Federal government is exempted from the ADA because it is already covered by similar nondiscrimination requirements and additional affirmative employment requirements under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. However, the ADA effectuated some amendments being made to the Rehabilitation Act.

The ADA and the Rehabilitation Act are relevant to the issue of workplace violence. Employees who threaten or commit acts of violence may seek protection under the laws because of debilitating psychological conditions that may lead to violence, but the laws do not shield employees from the consequences of violent behavior. Employees must be qualified to perform the basic functions of the job, and in most cases violent behavior will be disqualifying. Victims of threatening or violent behavior may also seek protection after being victimized because they develop debilitating psychological conditions that may limit their ability to perform on the job without reasonable accommodation(s).

Regarding employment discrimination and violence, an individual may only be denied employment or discharged where (1) that individual poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others; and (2) the direct threat cannot be reduced or eliminated by a reasonable accommodation without undue hardship. A direct threat of violence is generally understood to mean a specific and significant risk of violence coupled with a high probability of substantial harm. It is determined on a case by case basis.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 guarantees an eligible worker the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave in a year to care for one's own serious health condition or to attend to family members' serious health conditions. If a mental or physical injury occurs due to workplace violence, an employee may be eligible to utilize this leave for care of the injury.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standards (OSHA):

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes standards for maintaining safe work environments. The standards require that each employer furnish to each of its employees, a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. OSHA investigates and makes determinations about violations to its standards. To prove a violation, OSHA must find that the employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees of that employer were exposed, the hazard was recognized, the hazard was causing or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm, and there was a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard

OSHA has developed guidelines to help prevent workplace violence. Under the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers can be cited if there is a recognized hazard of workplace violence in their establishments and they do nothing to prevent or abate it.

Other Responsibilities:

Agencies may also need to be aware of other laws and regulations that impact their response to violence in the workplace. For example, most states now have stalking laws that prohibit willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing of another person. These stalking laws would prohibit this type of behavior at work as well. Restraining orders and protective court orders are another measure used in the community for preventing further violence, threats, or harassment. They are issued by a court and forbid, for a specified period of time, one party from making contact with another. It is important that appropriate persons in the agency know about these orders so that the individuals can be protected at work, particularly when the two parties work together. Individual states also have laws related to safety and health in the workplace which typically mirror OSHA. Some recognize violence as a workplace hazard and others do not.

Federal Laws Which Govern Crimes, Criminal Procedures, Extortion, and Threats Against Federal

If Federal employees are threatened or killed on the job while acting in their official capacity, there are now stricter, more comprehensive statutes which provide for criminal sanctions under Federal law (Section 1114 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code). Prior to April 24, 1996, only certain officers and employees of the United States were covered under the Department of Justice regulations regarding crimes against Federal employees. This included DOL employees assigned to perform investigative, inspection, or law enforcement functions. In 1994 the statute was amended to include the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) due to the large number of threats and incidents which occurred in that agency. Agencies which were not specifically covered received no protection under Federal law.

On April 24, 1996, the statute was amended in response to the bombing in Oklahoma City. The statute now states:

Whoever kills or attempts to kill any officer or employee of the United States or of any agency in any branch of the United States Government...shall be punished.

The categories of Federal officers and employees covered by Section 1114 are also protected while they are engaged in or on account of the performance of their official duties, from a conspiracy to kill...forcible assault, kidnap, murder with intent to impede, intimidate, or retaliate against such officer or employee.

The coverage provided by 18 U.S.C., Section 1114 is important since it serves as the basis for coverage by numerous other statutes including the following:

Section 111 – Assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees – the penalty for simple assault under this statute is a fine or imprisonment not more than one year, or both, and in all other cases, a fine or imprisonment not more than three years, or both. This statute covers

" whoever...forcible assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in Section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties."

Section 115 – Influencing, impeding, or retaliating against a Federal official by threatening or injuring a family member – penalties are similar to those under Section 111.

Section 844 – Penalties – for bomb and telephone threats (as well as actual damage) are as follows:

·        Threats are punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten years and/or a fine.

·        Malicious damage or attempts to damage by fire or an explosive punishable by imprisonment for not less than five years and not more than 20 years and/or fine.

·        Death of a person shall be subject to the death penalty or imprisonment for not less than 20 years or for life, fined under the title or both.

Workplace Violence Resources

The below listed resources from government organizations are also available for your reference and information.

Department of Labor Resources:

Department of Labor (DOL)

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
Business Operations Center (BOC) 
Division of Security 
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S1521 
Washington, DC 20210 
BOC published a pamphlet: Physical Security Guidance

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
Human Resources Center (HRC) 
WorkLife Center
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N5460
Washington, DC 20210 
HRC published a brochure: Responding to and Preventing Violence in the Workplace.

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
Safety and Health Center (SHC) 
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N1301
Washington, DC 20210 

Safety and Health Managers are also located in each of the Department's regional cities. The SHC is responsible for providing for health and employee assistance program services for Department employees nationwide; directories are available on LaborNet. Related training programs are also available upon request as well as a self-study course, Creating a Safe, Healthy Workplace: Your Responsibility.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
800-222-0364 Room S3214
TTY 888-262-7848 
For information or assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (formerly the Dependent Care Connection (DCC))
TDD 800-873-1322 counselors are available 24 hours a day
via the Internet at

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room N3107
Washington, DC 20210 
Publications: 202-693-1888 
General Information: 202-693-1999

OSHA published two pamphlets, Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Health Care and Social Service Workers and Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs for Late-Night Retail Establishments. Both pamphlets are available on OSHA's website,, and the Government Printing Office.

Women's Bureau (WB)
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Room S3002
Washington, DC 20210 
WB published a pamphlet: Domestic Violence: A Workplace Issue

Federal Government Resources

The non-DOL resources are maintained by other public and private organizations. DOL does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information.

Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
4676 Columbia Parkway 
Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998 

NIOSH provides an array of training, training material, including videos, and search services. The toll-free number is open 24 hours a day. Upon request, information sheets can be faxed. A three-packet guide, Homicide in the Workplace, is also available.

National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 7C02 
Rockville, MD 20857 

In addition to other literature, NIH publishes two free publications on depression (which has been found to be a factor in workplace violence), What To Do If An Employee Is Depressed and Managing Depression in the Workplace.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Office on Women's Health (OWH) 
200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 730B 
Washington, DC 20201 

OWH provides information, brochures, fact sheets, etc. on all matters related to women's health including violence against women

Department of Argiculture (USDA) Graduate School
600 Maryland Avenue, S.W. 
Washington, DC 20024 

USDA offers courses for managers, supervisors, and staff related to workplace violence. USDA trainers will tailor training courses to accommodate the specific needs of an agency or office. Courses are offered on-site and at the USDA Graduate School.

Department of Justice
National Criminal Justice Reference Service 
Bureau of Justice Assistance Clearinghouse (BJAC) 

BJAC has available to the public a catalog of National Institute of Justice documents. Many of the documents included in the catalog pertain to workplace violence.

Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
Employee Relations and Health Services Center 
1900 E Street, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20415

OPM's Employee Relations and Health Services Center provides advice and assistance to Federal agencies on issues relating to employee relations and Employee Assistance Program policy, including workplace violence, traumatic incidents, reasonable accommodation, and discipline. OPM publications include:

·        Dealing with Workplace Violence: A Guide for Agency Planners is intended to assist those who are responsible for establishing workplace violence initiatives at their agencies.

·        A Manager's Handbook: Handling Traumatic Events.

·        Responding to Domestic Violence: Where Federal Employee Can Find Help provides concise, up-to-date information on domestic violence, with concrete advice for employees who are victims, for friends and co-workers, and for their supervisors.

·        Significant Cases: a bi-monthly summary of important decisions of the courts, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Federal Labor Relations Authority.

·        New Developments in Employee and Labor Relations: a bi-monthly publication that highlights current case law, issues, and events in employee and labor relations.

·        Alternative Dispute Resolution: A Resource Guide is available by calling the telephone number listed above.

Internet Resources

·        Lifecare.come (formerly the Dependent Care Connection or DCC)

·        Bureau of Labor Statistics – Safety and Health Statistics

·        Dealing with Workplace Violence: A Guide for Agency Planners (PDF)

·        Department of Homeland Security – Federal Protective Service

·        Justice Department

·        National Criminal Justice Reference Service

·        National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)

o   Preventing Homicide in the Workplace

·        Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

·        Responding to Domestic Violence: Where Federal Employees Can Find Help

List of Emergency Numbers

(Fill in Local Telephone Numbers)

·        Guard Desk
Telephone Number:

·        Security Office
Telephone Number:

·        Local Law Enforcement Office
Telephone Number:

·        Health Unit
Telephone Number:

·        Employee Assistance Program
Telephone Number:

·        Safety and Health Office
Telephone Number:

·        Human Resources Office
Telephone Number:

·        Rescue Squad
Telephone Number:


·        Fire Department
Telephone Number:

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