Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office

This page last reviewed August 23, 2017

Sexual Harassment Prevention (SHP) Policy

In compliance with federal, state and local laws, and consistent with Air Resources Board's (ARB) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Program Policy Statement, ARB strictly prohibits and has Zero Tolerance for harassment of any employee or applicant in any form, whether based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other basis protected by federal, state or local law or ordinance. This policy applies to all employees, regardless of job title. Further, this policy applies to the workplace, as well as to conduct in work-related settings, such as during business trips or business-related social events.

ARB is committed to providing a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. This policy prohibits all inappropriate and unprofessional conduct directed at an individual because of a protected characteristic, even if such conduct does not rise to the level of illegal harassment.

In particular, in accordance with Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. 2000 (1964), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Gov. Code, 12940 et. seq.) and Government Code section 19572, ARB prohibits sexual harassment. ARB policy requires that all employees assume responsibility for maintaining a work environment free from any harassing conduct.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 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. Code of Federal Regulations, title 29, Part 1604.11

Sexual harassment can manifest itself in many forms. For example:

Written: Sexually suggestive or obscene letters, notes or invitations. Verbal: Sexually-derogatory comments, slurs, jokes, remarks or epithets. It is not necessary to use graphic or sexually-explicit language to verbally harass someone. Otherwise benign language, spoken in a suggestive tone of voice or accompanied by visual or physical harassment, also may constitute sexual harassment.

Visual: Leering, looking someone "up and down," making sexual gestures, displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters.

Physical: Any unwanted touching (including criminal acts, such as rape and attempted rape) or impeding or blocking movement. Common physical gestures such as hugging may be improper when considered in context with other comments and/or behaviors.

Other examples of sexual harassment may include:

  • Subjecting employees in work environments to gender-based hazing.

  • Making unwelcome sexual advances, even in situations where the relationship began with a mutual attraction.

  • Making reprisals, threats of reprisal, or implied threats of reprisal following a negative response to a request for sexual favors. For example, threatening to withhold, or actually withholding support for an appointment, promotion, or change of assignment and making reprisals against an individual who has filed a sexual harassment complaint. Any form of reprisal or retaliation is prohibited and will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

  • Making comments about a co-worker's anatomy.

  • Engaging in implicit or explicit coercive sexual behavior that is used to control, influence, or affect the career, salary, and/or work environment of another employee. This also may include situations in which an individual is treated less favorably because others have acquiesced to sexual advances.

  • Offering favors or employment benefits, such as promotions, favorable performance evaluations, favorable assigned duties or shifts, recommendations or reclassifications in exchange for sexual favors.

  • Repeatedly asking an employee out, "hanging around" an employee with no legitimate work-related reason, and pursuing an employee in or out of the workplace may violate this policy. If the behavior is unwelcome, it is a violation of this policy, even if no job benefit is lost, and even if there is no superior/subordinate relationship involved.

  • Engaging in any written, verbal, physical and/or visual behavior (as defined above) that results in an on-going intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment impacting the recipient's ability to do his or her job. This includes "third party" complaints. A third party is someone who is not directly involved with the interaction, but who may overhear or observe offensive behavior.

  • Use of sexually patronizing terms such as "honey," "doll," "chick," "hunk," "stud," or "babe."

The following are terms often used when talking about sexual harassment:

Quid Pro Quo - When employment decisions are based upon an employee's acceptance or rejection of unwelcome sexual behavior.

Hostile Work Environment - May result from unwelcome sexual behavior or offensive, hostile, and/or intimidating behavior directed at an employee because of that employee's gender.

Sex Discrimination - Occurs when employment decisions are based upon an employee's gender or when an employee is treated differently because of his/her sex.

Third-Party Sexual Harassment - Unwelcome sexual behavior that is directed toward one person, but negatively affects another individual's work environment.

Gender Baiting - Behavior that denigrates, ridicules, and/or is physically abusive of an employee because of his/her sex.

All managers/supervisors are responsible for creating a business-like work environment free from harassment of any kind and retaliation. This includes closely scrutinizing their own actions to ensure compliance with this policy. In addition, managers/supervisors must make themselves available and create a work environment that provides employees with opportunities for open communication to discuss potential violations of this policy. No influence may be used to dissuade an employee from airing a complaint. Managers/supervisors are also responsible for monitoring the workplace for retaliation after a complaint is filed.

All managers/supervisors are required to attend Sexual Harassment Prevention training once every two years and all new managers/supervisors within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position, as mandated by Assembly Bill 1825.

Managers/supervisors are required to discuss this policy with all new employees on the first day both are at work. All employees are required to sign the Certification of Understanding-Sexual Harassment Policy (ARB/MSB-177) at the time the policy is discussed.

Managers/supervisors are responsible for taking direct, effective action to stop conduct that violates this policy when they know, or should have known, about such conduct. Ignorance of such conduct is not necessarily an acceptable defense for inaction. Managers/supervisors should work with the EEO Office and the Human Resources Office to ensure that any action taken is effective in stopping the inappropriate conduct.

Although not required by this policy, it may be helpful for individuals who believe they have been subjected to conduct that violates this policy to inform the individual that his/her behavior is unwelcome, offensive, or inappropriate. This may be the first and only action needed to end the harassment.

Employees who believe they have been subjected to conduct that violates this policy may seek assistance from any member of management or the EEO Counselor/Investigator. ARB will investigate promptly and thoroughly all alleged violations of this policy. While absolute confidentiality is not possible, ARB will act with discretion during the investigatory process and confidentiality will be maintained to the extent practical and appropriate under the circumstances.

Upon completion of the investigation, ARB will take appropriate corrective action against any individual whom it determines violated this policy. Corrective action may include, but is not limited to, counseling, suspension, or termination. In addition, employees should be aware that a complaint of harassment may be filed in civil court, which, if successful, may result in personal liability for the employee.

No employee will be subject to, and ARB strictly prohibits, any form of retaliation or reprisal for reporting alleged violations of this policy, pursuing any such claim, or cooperating in any way in the investigation of such claims.

Signed: /s/ James N. Goldstene
Executive Officer
Air Resources Board

Dated: December 2, 2008

Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy

For assistance, please contact:

Beverly Bueno, EEO Officer, at (916) ) 323-7053
Christine McDonough, EEO Analyst & SHP Coordinator, at (916) 322-0473