EO: real solution to a real problem

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Misty Johnson
  • 97th Force Support Squadron
Editor's note: This is a fictional story to demonstrate how the Equal Opportunity Office could help in this kind of situation.

Ten - that's the number of times I push the snooze button every morning. As I'm driving to work, I take the longest route I can find and I wonder if everyone hates their job as much as I do. Each morning I walk into work and go directly to my office - trying not to make eye contact with my supervisor. I do my best to make the least amount of noise possible.

But no matter how hard I try, my supervisor always realizes I'm there and makes her way to my desk. As she makes her way around to the back of my chair, she rubs my shoulders and asks how my weekend was. I try to move away from her hands but she just grabs me harder. She then sits in the chair next to my desk and asks if I've been to the new restaurant everyone's been talking about. I shake my head "no" and try to focus on something on my computer. She then asks if I'd like to go check it out with her tonight. I shake my head "no" and again try to focus on my computer. This is the third time she's asked me out. I don't know why she won't leave me alone. She finally leaves but not before running her fingers through my hair and reminding me of how much fun I would have if we spent more time together. These are the recurring events of my work environment, and I hate it!

Today a few individuals from the Equal Opportunity Office came by for what they called an "out and about." The technical sergeant explained what our protected categories are, which made me wonder if maybe they could help me. After their visit, I decided to make an appointment with them.

I met with them the following Monday. Before I explained my situation, they informed me they do not have confidentiality - only protected disclosure. So if I informed them that I had been sexually assaulted, they would have to report the incident to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. To protect my rights, they had me read the definition of sexual assault and asked if my situation could fall within that category. I reassured them that it did not. I then went into my story.

After explaining my dreadful work environment, they explained the five protected categories and the definition for each (race, color, national origin, religion, and sex, to include sexual harassment). I advised them I was certain I was being sexually harassed by my supervisor. They then went into my options. I could either do an informal complaint or a formal complaint. An informal complaint would be handled at the lowest level possible. It would be handled through my chain of command. My commander would bring in a neutral party and they would conduct the clarification process. The formal complaint process would be handled through their office. They would conduct the clarification process. I let them know that getting my supervisor in trouble was the last thing I wanted to do. They then offered to make a phone call to my first sergeant who could assist in dealing with my issue. I agreed that would be the best thing to do.

The next day my first sergeant contacted me for a meeting to discuss the outcome of my situation. He informed me that he had talked with my supervisor and that she expressed her deepest apologies for creating a hostile work environment. He also assured me that all of her actions would cease immediately. Next, he asked if there was anything additional he could do for me. I expressed my thanks and informed him that I was satisfied with the outcome.

Today I was up before the alarm rang and I didn't take the longest route into work. I now enjoy my work environment and look forward to each day. My knowledge and understanding of the equal opportunity program has not only assisted me in my present job, but will also assist me in the future.