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Army Sexual Harassment – What is it?

What is Army Sexual Harassment?  With all of the recent news concerning sexual harassment this article will help you understand what the Army Sexual Harassment Policy prohibits.

Army Regulation 600-20, Chapter 7-4, Prevention of Sexual Harassment defines sexual harassment is defined as:

Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that involves unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature between the same or opposite genders when—

  (1) Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person’s job, pay, career, or

 (2) Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person, or

 (3) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

     Any person in a supervisory or command position who uses or condones implicit or explicit sexual behavior to control, influence, or affect the career, pay, or job of a Soldier or civilian employee is engaging in sexual harassment. Similarly, any Soldier or civilian employee who makes deliberate or repeated unwelcome verbal comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature is engaging in sexual harassment.

“Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that involves unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature between the same or opposite genders when”

Looking at the regulation itself a person to have committed sexual harassment must first have engaged in conduct that discriminated against a person based on their gender.  This discrimination must involve (1) unwelcome sexual advances, (2) unwelcome requests for sexual favors, (3) unwelcome verbal conduct of a sexual nature, or (4) unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature, and the submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person’s job, pay, career, or, (2) submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by a person is used as a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person, or, (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

If we breaking this down further, into specific elements of the offense of sexual harassment we have the following:

 Sexual harassment is gender discrimination that involves:

 (1) unwelcome sexual advances, or

(2) unwelcome requests for sexual favors, or

(3) unwelcome verbal conduct of a sexual nature, or

(4) unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature,

and submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly (1) a term or condition of a person’s job, pay, career, or, (2) a basis for career or employment decisions affecting that person, or, (3) has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

 Verbal sexual harassment is defined by the Army Regulation as:

 7–5. Categories of sexual harassment

      Verbal. Examples of verbal sexual harassment may include telling sexual jokes; using sexually explicit profanity, threats, sexually oriented cadences, or sexual comments; whistling in a sexually suggestive manner; and describing certain attributes of one’s physical appearance in a sexual manner. Verbal sexual harassment may also include using terms of endearment such as “honey”, “babe”, “sweetheart”, “dear”, “stud”, or “hunk” in referring to Soldiers, civilian co-workers, or Family members.

Because the person making comments may not know that the comments are unwelcome, AR 600-20, Paragraph 7-7, instructs soldiers who believe that they are being sexually harassed to confront the harasser, send a letter to the harasses or request assistance from a third party, the chain of command, or file a formal complaint.  The reason AR 600-20, para 7, instructs a soldier to confront the harasser is due to the fact that whether or not something is “unwelcome”  cannot be determined unless the person subject to the comment advises the other party of the unwelcome nature of the comment.  A comment that has a sexual reference in it or innuendo is not harassing unless it is unwelcome, and the harasser cannot know the comment(s) is unwelcome unless the harasser is advised that it is unwelcome.

On the other hand, a person has to be self-aware and understand how comments may be perceived by other especially when they are directed to subordinates.  The best course of action is to avoid any comments that could be interpreted as being offensive.  As my first company commander told me “if you are even asking yourself if it may be wrong, it is.”  It is better to be seen as distant and unfriendly, than subject yourself to allegations of sexual harassment.

If however you have been accused of sexual harassment, contact Michael Rosenblat, or find additional information at https://www.rosenblatlaw.com/ucmj-and-discharge-board-defense-attorney.html