THE SECRETARY GENERAL,
In the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by
Article 8 and 12 of the General Standards to Govern the Operations of the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States, and
That Article 3 (k) of the Charter of the
Organization of American States provides that, "The American States proclaim the
fundamental rights of the individual without distinction as to race, nationality, creed,
That Article 44 (a) of the Charter provides that,
"All human beings, without distinction as to race, sex, nationality, creed, or social
condition, have a right to material well-being and to their spiritual development, under
circumstances of liberty, dignity, equality of opportunity, and economic security";
That Article 142 of the Charter provides that,
"the Organization of American States does not allow any restriction based on race,
creed, or sex, with respect to eligibility to participate in the activities of the
Organization and to hold positions therein";
That Article 37 of the General Standards provides
that, "... Persons shall be selected for appointment as staff members without regard
to race, creed, or sex";
That Staff Rule 104.6 (a) ii, Selection Criteria,
provides that recommendations made to fill vacancies shall be made without regard to race,
creed, or sex, and
That the Secretary General and the General
Secretariat recognize the right of every staff member and independent contractor to be
treated with dignity and respect and to work in a healthy atmosphere which is free of
That it is against the policy of the General
Secretariat for any staff member or independent contractor to sexually harass another
staff member or an independent contractor, or any visitor who comes onto the General
That every staff member has the right to object and
to file a complaint should sexual harassment occur and to expect the General Secretariat
to deal seriously and promptly with that complaint,
That all supervisors, staff, and independent
contractors are expected to comply with the General Secretariat's policy against sexual
harassment and to take appropriate measures to ensure that sexual harassment does not
That new Staff Rule 101.8 prohibits sexual
harassment and provides for the issuance of Administrative Provisions to implement the
1. To adopt and implement the policies and procedures set out in the
document entitled "Guidelines and Procedures for the Prevention of Sexual
Harassment", attached hereto as Annex A.
I. AMENDMENTS AND REPEALS
This Executive Order supersedes all present norms,
regulations and practices of the General Secretariat to the contrary.
This Executive Order shall take effect on the date
on which it is signed.
Date: September 29, 1995
ANNEX A TO
EXECUTIVE ORDER No. 95-07
The General Secretariat's Guidelines for the
Prevention of Sexual Harassment are intended as a practical framework for supervisors,
other staff members, and independent contractors working within the General Secretariat's
facilities, to increase awareness about unacceptable behavior, to prevent sexual
harassment from happening, and to deal constructively with allegations of sexual
harassment that arise.
The General Secretariat recognizes the right of
every staff member and independent contractor to be treated with dignity and respect and
to work in a healthy atmosphere which is free of sexual harassment. The General
Secretariat will take appropriate steps to promote such a working environment, and it will
not tolerate behavior which is not respectful of that right.
It is against the policy of the General Secretariat
for any staff member or independent contractor to sexually harass another staff member or
an independent contractor, or any visitor who comes onto the General Secretariat's
premises. Every staff member has the right to object and to file a complaint should sexual
harassment occur and to expect the General Secretariat to deal seriously and promptly with
All supervisors, staff, and independent contractors,
are expected to comply with the General Secretariat's policy against sexual harassment and
to take appropriate measures to ensure that sexual harassment does not occur. Staff
members who violate that policy will be subject to disciplinary action; and independent
contractors who violate that policy are subject to termination for cause.
THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT
OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
GUIDELINES AND PROCEDURES FOR THE PREVENTION AND HANDLING
OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
The General Secretariat of the Organization of
American States (the "General Secretariat" or "GS/OAS") recognizes the
right of each GS/OAS staff member and independent contractor to be treated with dignity
and respect and to work in an atmosphere free of sexual harassment.
It is against the policy of the General Secretariat
for any staff member or independent contractor ("contractor") to sexually harass
another staff member or contractor or any visitor who comes onto the
General Secretariat's premises.
The General Secretariat will take appropriate steps
to promote a working environment which is free of sexual harassment.
Every GS/OAS staff member and contractor has the
right to object if sexual harassment occurs and to expect the complaint to be dealt with
seriously and promptly. If such harassment occurs and is reported in accordance with these
Guidelines, the General Secretariat will take appropriate steps with respect to the
offending individual(s), including, for example, discipline, dismissal, or contract
termination for cause.
All staff members and contractors are expected to
comply with the General Secretariat's sexual harassment policy and to take appropriate
measures to ensure that such conduct does not occur and is not condoned.
This policy is not intended to interfere with
relationships that consenting adults enter into freely and mutually. However, if an
individual does not welcome the attentions placed upon him or her, then the potential for
sexual harassment may exist.
Because sexual harassment frequently results from
abuse of power, it is often, but not exclusively, experienced by employees junior in rank
to the perpetrator in the employment power structure. However, it may also occur among
colleagues of equal rank, or of unequal rank in the opposite direction, within or outside
a direct reporting relationship. It may involve staff, consultants, contractors or member
government officials. It may occur at headquarters or in the field. Although usually a man
is the harasser and a woman the victim, sexual harassment may involve a woman harassing a
man or individuals of the same sex. No matter who is involved or where, sexual harassment
is unacceptable behavior.
Potential conflicts of interest may arise for those
in direct supervisory-subordinate professional relationships who initiate sexual
relationships, even if consensual. Because one person holds career authority over the
other, such relationships expose both parties to potential allegations of sexual
favoritism or harassment, and may undermine the supervisor's credibility in implementing
the Organization's sexual harassment policy.
Individuals who find themselves tempted to initiate
close personal relationships of a sexual nature should first arrange to sever the direct
I. WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
A. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests
for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when it
interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating,
hostile, or offensive work environment. It is particularly serious when engaged in by an
official who is in a position to influence career or employment conditions (including
hiring, assignment, contract renewal, performance evaluation or promotion) of the
recipient of such behavior.
B. Actions constitute sexual harassment when:
(1) Submission to the advance, request, or conduct is, or is implied to
be, a term or condition of an individual's employment,
(2) Submission to or rejection of the advance, request, or conduct is
used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual, or
(3) The advance, request, or conduct has the purpose or effect of
unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or of creating an
intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
II. WHAT CONSTITUTES SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
A. There is a line between friendly behavior and sexual harassment. The
key words are "unwanted, unreciprocated, and unwelcome". When any unwanted,
unwelcome, or unsolicited sexual conduct in or related to the workplace is imposed on a
person who regards it as offensive or undesirable, it is sexual harassment. Even if the
conduct is implicit in nature - hidden in subtlety or innuendo - as long as it is
unwelcome, it is unacceptable behavior.
B. Words or actions can become sexual harassment if they are: (1)
unwelcome to the recipient, (2) directly or indirectly linked to employment decisions such
as work assignments, promotions, or disciplinary actions, and (3) form the basis of such
C. Sexual harassment also can be found: (1) where activities result in
a sexually hostile, offensive, or intimidating atmosphere, or (2) where activities of a
sexual nature interfere with the work or performance of other employees and contractors.
D. Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to:
Physical - Unwelcome:
Touching of a person's body, hair, or clothing; Standing close or
brushing up against a person; Hugging, kissing, patting, pinching or stroking.
Verbal - Unwelcome:
Sexual jokes or stories; Sexual comments about a person's body;
Personal questions about social/sexual life; Sexual comments or innuendos; Repeated asking
out a person who is not interested; Invitations with conditions (e.g., suggesting sexual
favors are linked to retention of an individual's job, promotion, etc.).
Other - Unwelcome:
Sexually suggestive gestures with hands or body movements; Display of
sexually suggestive posters, calendars, cartoons, pictures, magazines, or other objects in
the workplace; Blocking of a person's path; Personal gifts such as intimate apparel.
III. DEALING WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT
A. Initial steps:
Keep complete, accurate records. What happened, when, where, who saw
it, and with whom you discussed the situation, and its results. These records should be as
accurate and as current as possible. You may need to provide copies to investigators or
Talk to friends, co-workers, confidants, and/or relatives about what
happened. It is important to have a strong support system.
All reports of sexual harassment will be handled discreetly to
protect the privacy of all involved. However, staff members should be aware that incidents
which may constitute misconduct will be reported to the Secretary General, through the
Director of the Department of Human Resources. Should this happen, the complainant staff
member will be so informed in writing as soon as possible.
B. The Formal complaint:
In circumstances where informal resolution is not appropriate or has
been unsuccessful, the complainant or the complainant's supervisor may make a written
complaint to the Secretary General through the Director of the Department of Human
Resources. The complaint should describe the specific act or acts which are being objected
to (for example, what was said and/or done), the time, location and circumstances under
which the act(s) took place, and should include any other information and evidence
relevant to the matter. The complaint should identify the alleged harasser, any witnesses
to the alleged harassment, and anyone to whom the incident might have been mentioned. The
complaint should be dated and signed by the complainant. If filed by a supervisor, the
complaint should be dated and signed by both the supervisor and the complainant.
The alleged offender will receive a copy of the Formal Complaint, or
a written synopsis of the Complaint prepared by the Department of General Legal Services.
The alleged offender shall be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations in
writing and to produce evidence to the contrary. At the same time, he or she shall be
informed of his or her right to the advice of a staff member or a retired staff member to
assist in his or her response. If no response is submitted, the matter shall nevertheless
Six (6) sexual harassment investigators (three of each gender) will
be appointed for 3 year-terms by the Secretary General, in consultation with the Permanent
Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission of Women (PS/CIM) and with the Staff
Committee. From this group of six, the Secretary General shall name a "Coordinating
Investigator". All of the sexual harassment investigators will be specially trained
in handling sexual harassment complaints to enable them to investigate alleged sexual
harassment complaints when presented, in lieu of a hearing, officer. Whenever a matter is
referred for investigation, the Coordinating Investigator will assign one male and one
female investigator (one of whom may be the Coordinating Investigator) to investigate the
matter jointly. Investigations will be carried out with confidentiality and in a sensitive
and objective manner. Investigators may be reappointed for additional terms by the
Secretary General after prior consultation with PS/CIM and with the Staff Committee.
Treat every allegation/complaint of sexual harassment seriously and
encourage the complainant and the alleged offender to provide as many facts as possible,
including providing the names of alleged witnesses;
Interview complainants, alleged offenders, and alleged witnesses. The
alleged offender has the right to hear and respond to the accusations and to provide the
names of alleged witnesses to be interviewed.
Upon receipt of a sexual harassment complaint, the Director of the
Department of Human Resources will inform the Secretary General and will forward the
complaint to the Coordinating Investigator for assignment of the matter to two sexual
harassment investigators (one of each gender) to conduct the initial investigation of an
allegedly offending staff member or contractor.
(1) If, as a result of their investigation, the investigators find that
it is more likely than not that a staff member committed sexual harassment, they shall, as
appropriate, recommend to the Director of the Department of Human Resources that the Joint
Disciplinary Committee be convened pursuant to Staff Rule 111. 1 or recommend summary
dismissal pursuant to Rule 110.5. The investigators may, as well, suggest other measures,
such as transfer for cause, for consideration and action.
(2) If, as a result of their investigation, the investigators find that
it is more likely than not that a contractor committed sexual harassment, they shall
recommend to the Director of the Department of Human Resources that the contractor's
contract with the General Secretariat be terminated for cause, or that such other measures
be taken as they consider appropriate.
(3) If the investigators find that sexual harassment did not occur,
they shall send a report to that effect to the Director of the Department of Human
Resources, who shall then notify the complainant and the individual that the complainant
accused. In such case, all record of the proceedings shall be removed from the
individuals' personnel files, if any such files are maintained.
(4) If the investigators find that there was no sexual harassment and
that there is no reasonable doubt that the sexual harassment complaint was made for
improper purposes or reasons, they may recommend to the Director of the Department of
Human Resources that disciplinary action under the Staff Rules be taken against the
complainant. Upon receipt of such recommendation, the Director of the Department of Human
Resources shall take appropriate action.
C. Financial Liability:
Any offending staff member whose actions result in a judgment for
monetary damages against the Secretary General shall be required, by deductions from his
or her salary and/or from other benefits due, to make full restitution of those damages to
the Secretary General in accordance with Staff Rule 101.3.
Any offending contractor whose actions result in a judgment for
monetary damages against the Secretary General may be required, by deductions from any
monies then due to him, to make restitution of those damages to the General Secretariat.
D. Sexual Harassment by Others:
If a complainant believes that he or she has been sexually harassed
on GS/OAS premises, or elsewhere in the exercise of official duties, by a member
government official, or by anyone else, the procedures set forth in Section III, A should
be followed, if appropriate.
If the procedures set forth in Section III, A are inappropriate or
ineffective, the complainant or his or her supervisor, may report the matter to the
Director of the Department of Human Resources. The Director shall inform the Secretary
General and forward the complaint to the Coordinating Investigator. The Coordinating
Investigator shall assign two investigators (one of each gender) to interview the
complainant and any staff member or other witness named by the complainant. If the
investigators conclude that there is substantial reason to believe that sexual harassment
occurred, they shall send a report to the Secretary General, through the Director of the
Department of Human Resources. Upon receipt of the report, the Secretary General will
study the matter, and if appropriate, he may inform the pertinent authority orally or in
writing regarding the incident and the need for corrective action.
However, if the investigators find that sexual harassment did not
occur, they shall send a report to that effect to the Director of the Department of Human
Resources, who shall then notify the complainant. If the investigators find that there was
no sexual harassment and that there is no reasonable doubt that the sexual harassment
complaint was made for improper purposes or reasons, they may recommend to the Director of
the Department of Human Resources that disciplinary action under the Staff Rules be taken
against the complainant. Upon receipt of such recommendation, the Director of the
Department of Human Resources shall take appropriate action.
All staff members and contractors bear personal
responsibility for maintaining a harmonious working environment. This requires that they
conduct themselves in a way which will ensure that the workplace is free of all forms of
sexual harassment. Each manager and supervisor should make this responsibility clear by
personal example, by clearly communicating the sexual harassment prohibition policy to his
or her staff, by enhancing a positive working environment in which sexual harassment does
not occur, and by ensuring prompt attention to the adherence of this policy.
Managers and supervisors must act firmly and
decisively to put an end to any sexual harassment which comes to their attention.
All staff members and contractors are equally
responsible for complying with the policy against sexual harassment and for helping to
create a working environment in which the dignity of each individual is fully respected.