Office of Equal Opportunity - Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures

It is imperative that all employees in State government be assured of a working environment conducive to the performance of their duties and free from sexual harassment, intimidation or coercion of any form. The secretaries and other agency heads are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy, including the prompt investigation and resolution of any complaint of sexual harassment.

  1. Purpose - It is the policy of the State of Maryland that sexual harassment is an unlawful employment practice that will not be tolerated in the work place.  This procedure is intended to ensure that allegations of sexual harassment are given proper attention.

  2. Legal Authority
  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended
  2. Title 20 Human Relations, Laws Administered by State of Maryland Commission on Human Relations
  3. Title 5, State Personnel and Pensions Article, Annotated Code of Maryland
  4. Executive Order 01.01.2007.16, Code of Fair Employment Practices
  5. EEOC Policy Guidance on Sexual Harassment, Number N-915-0505 (3/19/90)

  1. Definition of Sexual Harassment
  1. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment may be verbal (sexual innuendo, threats, jokes, sexual propositions, or suggestive comments); non-verbal (making suggestive or insulting noises, leering, whistling or making obscene gestures, or displaying sexually explicit or offensive pictures or other illustrations); or physical (touching, pinching, brushing the body, assaulting, or any other contact of a sexual nature).
  1. Types of Sexual Harassment:
  1. Quid Pro Quo - Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment when:
    1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; or
    2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual.
  1. Hostile Work Environment - Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute hostile environment sexual harassment when a reasonable person would find:
    1. such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or
    2. such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, which is perceived by the victim to be abusive or hostile.
  1. The victim, as well as the accused, may be a female or a male; the victim does not have to be of the opposite sex; the accused may be an employee's direct supervisor, a supervisor in another division, a co-worker, or a non-employee; and the victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  2. Sex-based offensive behavior in the work place is prohibited by law. Even if the behavior may be tolerated by some individuals outside of the work place, sexual harassment will not be tolerated within the work place. The ignorance or intentions of the harasser are irrelevant; sexual harassment is wrong and will not be tolerated.

  1. Employees Responsibilities - If an employee believes that sexual harassment has occurred, the employee should take the following steps:
  1. Inform the offending person that his/her conduct is unwelcome and should cease immediately.  It is important for the victim to communicate that the conduct is unwelcome, particularly when the alleged harasser may have some reason to believe that the advance may be welcome.  However, a victim of harassment need not confront his/her harasser directly, so long as his/her conduct demonstrates that the harasser's behavior is unwelcome.
  2. If the alleged harassment does not cease, it promptly should be reported to the affected employee's supervisor, the Office of Equal Opportunity, or EO Designee, or the Office of the Statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Coordinator.
  3. If an employee's immediate supervisor is alleged to have sexually harassed the employee, the incident should be reported to the person directly in charge of the supervisor, the Office of Equal Opportunity, or EO Designee, or the Office of the Statewide EEO Coordinator.

  1. Department's Responsibilities
  1. When an alleged incident of sexual harassment is reported to a supervisor, the Office of Equal Opportunity, EO Designee, or any management representative, the Department must initiate and complete its investigation into the allegations within fifteen (15) working days from the Department’s notification of the alleged harassment. The investigation shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the guidelines issued by the Department of Budget and Management.
  2. The employee alleging sexual harassment should be informed that the Department will investigate all allegations of sexual harassment and take immediate appropriate corrective action in response to all substantiated charges.
  3. The employee alleging sexual harassment must be informed that the Department will ensure confidentiality and that they (the complaining employee and all witnesses) will not be retaliated against as a result of participating in the investigation.
  4. The employee alleging sexual harassment must be informed of his or her right to file a formal complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the Department's Office of Equal Opportunity, or EO Designee who is responsible for investigating the alleged harassment.
  5. The Department is required to make follow-up inquiries to ensure the harassment has not resumed, if harassment was found, and that no retaliatory action has been taken in response to the filing of the complaint.