Sexual Harassment Reports and Investigations


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
June 11, 2024 When Superseded 16   18  


The District of Columbia government is committed to maintaining a safe work environment free from harassment, abuse, and intimidation for all its employees. This issuance defines sexual harassment and provides steps employees must take to report incidents of misconduct. This issuance also outlines how agencies should handle and investigate sexual harassment reports. It does not replace the requirement to attend the annual Sexual Harassment Officer (SHO) training. SHOs are strongly encouraged to review the trainings posted on the DCHR intranet prior to conducting an investigation.

NOTE: This issuance supersedes DPM issuance No. I-2018-8, Sexual Harassment Reports and Investigations, dated April 25, 2018.

Maintaining an Environment Free From Sexual Harassment

The District government reaffirms its commitment to maintaining a harassment-free work environment.

The Mayor established a policy and related procedures mandating that workplaces be free from all forms of sexual harassment (Mayor’s Order 2023-131). This policy protects individuals from workplace sexual harassment whether they are employees, contractors, interns, applicants for District government employment, or any other persons engaged by the District of Columbia government to provide permanent or temporary employment services. The District’s laws and policies also prohibit retaliation against anyone who reports harassment or participates in an investigation.

Sexual Harassment Defined

The definition of sexual harassment has been updated to align with the expanded definition under the Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act of 2022, D.C. law, and the District Code.

Sexual harassment is “any conduct of a sexual nature, ‘whether direct or indirect, verbal or nonverbal, that unreasonably alters an individual’s terms, conditions, or privileges of employment or has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.’"[1] Under this updated definition, “conduct need not be severe or pervasive to constitute harassment” and “no specific number of incidents or specific level of egregiousness is required."[2]

Sexual Conduct Relating to Job Benefits (Quid Pro Quo)

Sexual harassment includes quid pro quo sexual harassment, which is “sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature where submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or where submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as the basis for an employment decision affecting the individual’s employment."[3]

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Examples of conduct that can contribute to or constitute sexual harassment or that could otherwise violate the Mayor’s Order include, but are not limited to:

  • Sex acts;
  • Display of sexual organs;
  • Using sexually oriented or sexually degrading language describing an individual or their body, clothing, hair, accessories, or sexual experiences;
  • Sexually offensive comments or off-color language, jokes, or innuendo that a reasonable person would consider to be of a sexual nature, or belittling or demeaning to an individual or a group’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity;
  • “Sexting” or seeking or sending pictures of intimate body parts;
  • Taking or displaying pictures of body parts meant to be covered up (such as “upskirting” pictures);
  • Displaying or disseminating sexually suggestive objects, books, screensavers, magazines, photographs, music, cartoons, or computer internet sites or references;
  • Unnecessary and inappropriate touching or physical contact, such as intentional and repeated brushing against a colleague’s body, touching or brushing a colleague’s hair or clothing, massages, groping, patting, pinching, or hugging, that a reasonable person would consider to be of a sexual nature;
  • Leering, ogling, or making sexually suggestive gestures or sounds, such as whistling or kissing noises;
  • Making inquiries about someone’s private sex life or describing one’s own sex life;
  • Workplace sexual comments, conduct, displays and suggestions between two willing parties in the presence of another that are inconsistent with professional workplace norms;
  • Any unwanted repeated contact, including, but not limited to in-person, or telephonic, for romantic or sexual purposes;
  • Giving a preference to someone who is engaged in a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship based on the relationship to the disadvantage of someone who is not engaged in a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship; and
  • Sexual assault, stalking, trapping someone such that they are not free to leave and a sexual encounter is expected or threatened, threats of bodily harm relating to sex or the refusal to have sex, or other crimes related to acts of sexual harassment.

Notably, the District may treat some conduct of a sexual nature as misconduct, even when it does not rise to the level of unlawful sexual harassment actionable under the D.C. Human Rights Act. As an example, an employee who tends to greet people with a hug who has been warned that the conduct was offensive to some employees and then hugs an employee whom they have not seen in many months. The conduct may not rise to the level of “unreasonably altering the individual’s terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,” but it could constitute misconduct since they had been warned that some employees associate hugging with unwanted sexual contact that is offensive in the work environment.

[1] See Mayor’s Order 2023-131 at III(A).
[2] Id.
[3] See Mayor's Order 2023-131 at III(B).

Designating a Sexual Harassment Officer

To assist employees and agencies with accepting, receiving, reviewing, and investigating sexual harassment complaints, Mayor’s Order 2023-131 requires that all agencies designate a Sexual Harassment Officer (SHO). Agencies are also required to designate an individual who serves as the alternate SHO when the primary SHO is unavailable. Agencies must submit the names of their SHOs to the D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR) and the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR) via email at [email protected] and [email protected], or at any other email address designated by OHR or DCHR, with the subject line, “[Agency Name] – SHO Designations.” If an agency makes any changes to the SHO designation, they must notify both agencies as soon as possible.

NOTE: When agreed upon, smaller agencies may utilize SHOs from larger agencies, or make other mutually agreeable arrangements for designating SHOs. Regardless, the names of all primary and alternate SHOs must be sent to OHR and DCHR and updated when necessary.

Who Can an Agency Designate as a SHO?

Agencies may designate SHOs at their discretion so long as the designee is competent in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, takes (and continues to take) the annual training provided by DCHR and OHR, and has no inherent conflict of interest. Due to their role in defending the agency, DCHR recommends that agencies do not select the General Counsel, or attorneys in an agency’s Office of General Counsel, to serve as their SHO. SHOs may, but do not need to be, an agency’s EEO officer or human resources manager.

Since the SHO will investigate allegations of a very sensitive nature, agencies must designate employees with specific criteria in mind. When designating employees to serve as a SHO, the agency should designate someone with:

  • Experience – Individuals designated as SHOs should have experience investigating complaints or have related education and training. For example, experienced investigators know what to look for, how to find the relevant information, and how to analyze what they find;
  • Impartiality – individuals serving as SHOs must be perceived in the workplace, and by the parties to the complaint, to be fair and objective;
  • Trustworthy – the SHO must be an individual who is approachable, able to work discretely, can create a safe and private space to hold sensitive discussions, and able to exercise fairness and good judgment on the agency’s behalf.
  • Professionalism – individuals investigating sexual harassment complaints must perform their responsibilities with the utmost professionalism, without interference from personal feelings or bias. While investigating these complaints, the SHO should maintain the confidentiality and integrity of the process and information received to the fullest extent possible.

Individuals who may be ideal designees include:

  • HR Advisors or HR Managers;
  • Individuals competent in or familiar with EEO provisions;
  • Individuals experienced in conducting investigations; and
  • EEO Officers or former EEO Counselors.

Providing the Contact Information of Sexual Harassment Officers

To ensure that employees know who to contact for sexual harassment concerns, agencies must post the names and contact information of their SHO and alternative contact in a high visibility or high traffic area (e.g., a break room). Employees may also obtain their Sexual Harassment Officer’s contact information from their agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Officer, Human Resources (HR) office, or the Office of Human Rights. DCHR also maintains a list of Sexual Harassment Officers on its website at

Reporting Sexual Harassment

All District of Columbia employees are responsible for ensuring a workplace free of harassment. To that end, all employees who know of incidents of sexual harassment, or know of conduct of a sexual nature that could create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment should report the situation immediately as outlined below. Agencies should protect the confidentiality of all aspects of the harassment complaints and those reporting such complaints, to the greatest extent possible consistent with the Mayor’s Order, the needs of the investigation, and resolution of the complaints. 

Alleged Victims of Sexual Harassment

Alleged victims of sexual harassment should report the harassing behavior to one of the following individuals within their agency as soon as possible:

  • The alleged victim’s manager or supervisor or the manager or supervisor of the alleged harasser;
  • Agency Sexual Harassment Officer;
  • Any agency SHO; or
  • Agency General Counsel.

Witnesses to Sexual Harassment

Employees have a responsibility to report incidents of sexual harassment or behavior of a sexual nature that may create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Witnesses should report incidents to the following individuals within their agency:

  • The witness’ manager or supervisor, or the manager or supervisor of the alleged harasser;
  • Agency Sexual Harassment Officer;
  • Any agency SHO; or
  • Agency General Counsel.

An individual should notify the agency General Counsel instead of the SHO in instances where giving notice to the SHO would raise conflict of interest concerns. If a complaint is reported to a SHO in a different agency, that SHO must notify their General Counsel, who will then notify the General Counsel of the complainant’s agency for appropriate referral and investigation.

NOTE: Regardless of whom the complaint is reported to, the agency SHO or alternate SHO will ultimately investigate the matter unless there is a conflict of interest.

Rights Under the D.C. Human Rights Act

In addition to reporting to an agency SHO, or other individual as identified above, under the D.C. Human Rights Act, alleged victims may file a claim of sexual harassment directly with the Office of Human Rights or in court.

Filing an Administrative Complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights

  • An individual may file an administrative complaint of sexual harassment with the Office of Human Rights (OHR) within 1-year of the incident(s) or discovery of the incident(s).
  • Reporting incident(s) of sexual harassment to the Agency’s SHO does not constitute reporting a complaint of sexual harassment with OHR. Therefore, reporting an incident to the SHO also does not toll (or delay) the deadline for reporting a complaint to OHR.
  • Reporting incident(s) of sexual harassment to the Agency’s SHO does not limit or delay the individual’s right to file a complaint with the Office of Human Rights, as both processes can run parallel to each other.
  • Please note that an individual is not required to report an allegation of sexual harassment to an Agency EEO Counselor, as required for other EEO claims (e.g., retaliation), prior to filing a claim at OHR. Individuals may file a sexual harassment complaint directly with OHR within the timeframe noted above.

Filing an Administrative Complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • An individual may file an administrative complaint of sexual harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the incident(s) or discovery of the incident(s).
  • Similarly, reporting an incident to the SHO does not toll (or delay) the deadline for reporting a complaint to the EEOC. Nor does reporting incident(s) of sexual harassment to the Agency SHO limit or delay the individual’s right to file a complaint with the EEOC. As with OHR, both processes can run parallel to each other.

Filing a Civil Action in Court

  • An individual may file a D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA) complaint of sexual harassment with the D.C. Superior Court within 1-year of the alleged harassment or discovery of the incident. An individual is not required to first file with OHR in order to file a DCHRA complaint before filing with the D.C. Superior Court.  
  • Reporting the incidents of sexual harassment to the Agency’s SHO does not limit or delay the individual’s right to file in D.C. Superior Court, as both processes can run parallel to each other.

Handling Reports of Sexual Harassment

Managers, Supervisors, and HR Officials

Managers, supervisors, and HR officials who receive reports of alleged sexual harassment must immediately relay the report to the agency’s Sexual Harassment Officer and take any appropriate remedial actions as directed by the agency General Counsel.

Sexual Harassment Officers

The role of the SHO is to accept, review, and investigate sexual harassment claims by gathering, investigating, and reviewing the factual basis of the claim, and preparing a written report that details the investigation, the facts ascertained from the investigation, and which allegations are substantiated and which are unsubstantiated. SHOs do not make legal conclusions as to whether sexual harassment occurred or whether the Mayor’s Order was violated. Upon receiving a report of potential sexual harassment or other misconduct of a sexual nature, the SHO must:

  1. Immediately notify the General Counsel, who must then immediately notify the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel (MOLC);
  2. Gain a full understating of the complaint;
  3. Acknowledge receipt of complaint, notify the complainant that the matter is being investigated, and contact the complainant to gather more information;
  4. Inform the alleged harasser of the allegations;
  5. Make any additional required communications to, for example, gather relevant facts through documentation and interviews;
  6. Investigate the complaint; and
  7. Prepare and deliver a report to the Agency Head or designee on the investigation.

Maintaining Confidentiality

Any individuals involved in investigating reports of alleged sexual harassment must take reasonable steps to ensure that the details of the complaint and investigation remain confidential, especially when information pertaining to a sexual harassment complaint changes hands or is shared as part of an investigation. Failure to safeguard confidential information can result in corrective or adverse action, up to and including separation.

However, confidentiality is not absolute. The alleged harasser is entitled to notification of the allegations and must be given a full and fair opportunity to respond. SHOs may have to disclose information to witnesses to gather more information, and they must ensure the agency General Counsel is frequently updated for investigation support. Additionally, the confidentiality requirement does not prevent an agency from reporting a suspected illegal or improper act, such as sexual assault, to the appropriate enforcement authority, or from cooperating in any related investigation. Further, the SHO may have to disclose information due to a court order.

All information obtained in the investigation shall be used by the SHO only for purposes of the investigation and must be maintained in the strictest levels of confidence. It is recommended that all materials and information be stored on drives and in locations that are under the control or oversight of the agency General Counsel.

Complaints Against Senior Officials

Complaints against of the below senior officials must be referred to the Inspector General:

  • The Mayor,
  • City Administrator,
  • Mayor’s Chief of Staff,
  • Mayor’s Senior Advisor,
  • Director of the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel,
  • Any Deputy Mayor, or
  • Any official who directly reports to the Mayor

The Inspector General will determine if the allegation is credible, and if so, the complaint will be referred for independent investigation. A complaint against an Agency Head or General Counsel must be reported by the SHO directly to the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Investigating the Complaint

Once a SHO has received a complaint of sexual harassment, they are required to immediately begin the investigation process, which must be completed within 60 days of receiving the complaint. The following are nine steps that should be part of any successful investigation:

  1. Define the Scope of the Investigation;
  2. Recommend Immediate Interim Action to the General Counsel (such as temporarily separating the alleged harasser from the alleged victim or safeguarding records that may be vulnerable to destruction), if needed;
  3. Conflict of Interest Determination;
  4. Plan the Investigation;
  5. Conduct Interviews (if possible, record all interviews);
  6. Gather Documents and Other Evidence;
  7. Evaluate the Evidence;
  8. Document the Investigation; and
  9. Report to the Agency Head, or their Designee, and the General Counsel on the investigation, including what the investigation entailed and what details or information were substantiated (or not) by the evidence.

The SHO is responsible for conducting the investigation and completing the investigation report, which the SHO will provide only to the Agency Head, or their designee, and the General Counsel. The SHO must seek guidance and support from the agency General Counsel, keeping them apprised throughout the investigation process, which includes drafting the report. In addition to providing overall guidance, the General Counsel can assist with hurdles beyond the SHO’s scope, such as gaining access to relevant information in the possession of a sister agency (such as email records from OCTO), ensuring the cooperation of agency witnesses, and preventing an employee’s interference with the investigation. 

Step 1. Define the Scope of Investigation

SHOs must take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously and conduct thorough and complete investigations.

Notify the General Counsel

Immediately upon receiving a report of an allegation of sexual harassment, the SHO shall notify the agency’s General Counsel of the complaint and share with the General Counsel all known information related to the allegation. The General Counsel is responsible for determining what information, if any, should be communicated with the agency’s leadership and external authorities. The General Counsel should notify the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel of the complaint immediately after receiving it, with as much of the following information as known: names of the alleged harasser(s), alleged victim(s) and witnesses; nature and type of harassment; all relevant date(s) and location(s); and a description of the incident(s) to be investigated. If not all of this information is known at the time of the initial reporting, the General Counsel should update the MOLC as it is identified.

Determining the Bases of the Complaint

The first step after informing the General Counsel of the complaint is to work with the General Counsel to ensure the complaint involves sexual harassment or misconduct of a sexual nature in order to determine whether the allegations are appropriate for the SHO to investigate. For example, the SHO would not investigate retaliation claims.

Further, the SHO should determine the extent of the investigation. For example, situations may arise when the alleged conduct is of a nature that does not require an extensive investigation to disclose the facts. For example, all parties may agree as to the facts or there may be videotape evidence that clearly shows what happened, and thus the matter may be investigated quickly. Regardless of whether a full investigation is required, the SHO should speak with the relevant parties, document or record all information received, and document all efforts undertaken to address the matter.

Example 1: An employee, on a single occasion, asks his co-worker to have dinner with him one night. The co-worker declines, saying she has a boyfriend. The employee replies: “He’s a very lucky guy.” This makes the co-worker uncomfortable and she reports the situation, even though the employee did not further pursue the matter.
In this scenario, a full investigation is probably unnecessary. Instead, a discussion with the two parties, and possibly their supervisor, will likely provide the SHO with the facts to confirm what happened and complete their investigation. The SHO must still document such efforts and the relevant information received in the Investigation Report.

Step 2. Recommend Immediate Action to the Agency, If Needed

After receiving the complaint, the SHO must consult with the General Counsel to determine if immediate workplace changes are necessary to prevent further harm and to ensure the investigation is free from disruption. The most common action that may be taken is to temporarily separate the alleged harasser from the complainant (or vis versa). Whether immediate interim action is needed is ultimately decided by the General Counsel and/or agency head, and such action will be initiated by the agency General Counsel (working with the appropriate HR, management and other staff as necessary) and should be processed in accordance with the District Personnel Manual and any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement.

 Avoid Retaliation Claims! In many sexual harassment investigations, immediate action will need to be taken while the investigation is pending. However, such actions should not penalize the employee reporting the harassment or the alleged harasser. If the parties must be separated while the investigation is pending, reassigning the alleged harasser or, if not possible, the complainant, is preferable to placing an employee on administrative leave with pay. 

Separating the Alleged Harasser from the Complainant

The agency must assess whether the alleged harasser should be separated from the complainant’s work environment. It may be appropriate to take such a step when there are allegations of:

  • Serious misconduct, such as sexual touching, sexual assault, violence, threats, or extremely abusive verbal harassment;
  • An ongoing pattern of harassment; or
  • Misconduct where the complainant(s) or witnesses appear intimidated by the alleged harasser.

As previously noted, moving the complainant may be perceived as retaliatory. The best way to avoid claims of retaliation is to temporarily reassign the alleged harasser in a reasonably comparable placement, even if in a different agency or division. Other possibilities include reassignment of duty station, changed shifts, duties, or reporting requirements, or other measures that do not result in reduction of pay, title, responsibility, or other loss of employee benefits. If these steps are taken, the alleged harasser should be informed that the arrangement is temporary, that no conclusions have been reached as to the sexual harassment allegations, and that the action being taken is in no way punitive.

Removing the Complainant from the Work Environment

Sometimes, the complainant of alleged sexual harassment will ask to be reassigned or given time off pending the investigation. If this occurs, find out and document exactly why the employee wants to be taken out of the work environment. 
If the alleged victim is experiencing trauma or other health-related issues because of the alleged sexual harassment, the agency should take appropriate actions as required or permitted by law to assist the employee. If the alleged harasser has threatened the complainant, or co-workers are shunning the complainant, this is information that should be immediately brought to the attention of the agency General Counsel. Whatever the explanation, it is important to reiterate that retaliation by the alleged harasser or co-workers is not tolerated. Additionally, make the best arrangements to address the complainant’s concerns. If the complainant is removed from the work environment, make sure that the employee can still be available to participate in the investigation.

Administrative leave with pay for either individual should be used only as a last resort.

! Expedite the investigation whenever one or more parties are reassigned or placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Criminal Allegations

Whenever a report of sexual harassment or subsequent evidence reveals potential criminal conduct, such as sexual assault, physical violence, or threats to do bodily harm, stop the investigation and consult agency General Counsel immediately. The agency’s General Counsel, in consultation with the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, will determine whether law enforcement should be contacted and what other immediate steps must be taken. Do not conduct additional interviews or resume your investigation until you have consulted your agency General Counsel or the MOLC and received their approval to proceed. Failure to comply with this instruction may impact the criminal investigation and/or case of law enforcement officials.

Step 3.  Conflict of Interest Determination

Generally, the agency’s Sexual Harassment Officer (SHO) will investigate reports of sexual harassment. Smaller agencies are authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with other agencies if their staffing level does not allow for the appointment of a dedicated SHO. In these cases, the SHO investigating the report may be a SHO from another agency. In the event of a conflict of interest, or of a claim of bias that could reasonably be raised against the assigned SHO, the assigned SHO should immediately notify the agency General Counsel to assist with identifying another SHO to conduct the investigation.

If another SHO is assigned to conduct the investigation, the original SHO or another appropriate party (agency General Counsel, etc.) should notify the complainant in writing of this change. The written notification should identify the new SHO as the formal contact for the investigation and as the individual who is conducting the investigation on behalf of the agency. The written notification is also useful for communicating to involved parties that an investigation is underway.

Step 4. Plan the Investigation

Before investigating, the SHO must plan how the investigation will be carried out. To do this, DCHR recommends completing the attached Investigation Plan (See Attachment 2: Investigation Plan Template) and utilizing the agency General Counsel for feedback and suggestions. To complete the plan, the SHO will need to rely on the complaint of the complainant or third-party witness reports of the potential harassment. The SHO can also use available documents, such as organization charts to determine some baseline information, such as the names of the relevant parties as well as their job title and work relationship.

Preliminary Meeting with the Complainant

If the complaint was not submitted in writing or the written complaint is insufficient, the SHO may need to meet with the individual reporting the sexual harassment allegation to get a clear sense of the circumstances and issues being raised. The individual may be an alleged victim, third-party witness, or an individual to whom the allegation was reported. It is important to clarify the exact allegation from the individual making the report to the SHO. If they are not a witness to the allegation, the SHO may also make efforts to clarify the allegation from the original source of the complaint, which might be the alleged victim. These preliminary meetings are only for understanding the actual allegation so as to plan the investigation accordingly. More thorough interviews of these individuals should occur as the investigation progresses.

Understand the Complaint First

Understand the Complaint First

Before drafting the investigation plan, the SHO must have some understanding of the complaint and allegations. Initially, the SHO should verify the allegations with the individual originally reporting the situation, and then brainstorm and try to answer the following types of questions using known information before conducting a formal interview:

  • Who complained? Are there multiple complainants?
  • What is the alleged misconduct?
  • Were there job-related promises or threats (quid pro quo), or is this a hostile work-environment claim? Or were there both?
  • Who is the alleged wrongdoer (their name, position)? Is there more than one harasser?
  • How many incidents of harassment have been alleged?
  • Where and when did the harassment take place?
  • Have any potential witnesses been named?
  • How did the harassment come to the attention of the SHO?

Finding the answers to the above questions will help the SHO decide who to interview, what documents and other evidence might be available, and what type of questions to ask witnesses.

TIP! Site visits are extremely helpful at placing investigations and evidence into context. Whenever the SHO determines that the environment may be relevant to the events, the SHO should make all reasonable efforts to visit relevant locations. For example, if the alleged harassment took place in an office, visit the office to see how it is laid out and where individuals sit relative to other employees.

Investigation Plan

The SHO must establish the general nature of the complaint, including, but not limited to: name(s) of the alleged harasser, alleged victim and witnesses, nature and type of harassment, all relevant date(s) and location(s), and a description of the incident(s) to be investigated to complete a thorough draft investigation plan. This should be done before contacting additional witnesses or gathering any documentary evidence. The draft plan can be used to keep the SHO organized and communicate the scope of the investigation to the General Counsel. Keep in mind that the initial draft can be an incomplete plan and the SHO may further develop the plan as the investigation proceeds.


Each investigation plan should have an Overview section. Give the investigation a title, a description with key objectives, and the investigation scope.

Basic Information

The Basic Information section provides the allegations. Describe what was alleged – who was harassed, by whom, when and how. The SHO likely will not have all this information when crafting the first draft.


Supply a succinct chronology of alleged events leading to the investigation. This is not a chronology of the investigation; it is a chronology of the harassing behavior and how that behavior came to the attention of the SHO.


List any known direct and circumstantial evidence and potential witnesses. The list should be concise, but sufficiently descriptive to identify the importance of the physical evidence or witnesses.


This section lists the planned investigation activity events that will take place during the investigation. This can include meetings, document reviews, and formal witness interviews. This section also includes a listing of notifications made to individuals during the investigation, such as notifications to the General Counsel and to witnesses for purposes of scheduling interviews.

Revising the Plan

The investigation plan will be fluid and should be updated as the investigation proceeds. When new evidence is discovered, or new witnesses come to light, that information should be added to the plan. Similarly, the plan should be updated with itinerary and notification changes.

Step 5. Interviews

Once an investigation plan is in place, the SHO will need to direct their focus to interviewing witnesses. If it is feasible, DCHR highly encourages agencies to tape-record interviews with witnesses to ensure record accuracy. Some agencies require investigators to obtain written statements or affidavits after an interview. The SHO should never interview more than one witness at a time – each witness should be interviewed separately.

The SHO should schedule and complete witness interviews as quickly as possible. Generally, the SHO should aim to complete all interviews within days of receipt of the initial complaint, or as soon as possible thereafter. This allows for the investigation to proceed efficiently and minimizes investigation-related discussion among witnesses in the workplace. DCHR recommends scheduling formal interviews in writing by sending separate email notifications to the complainant, alleged harasser, and potential witnesses, which outline their rights and what to expect. (See Attachment 3: Confidentiality Notice and Attachment 4: Sample Notification). Be deliberate when scheduling an interview – the description on the calendar invitation should be generic so that others who may have access to the individual’s calendar are not aware of the content of the meeting. Also ensure that the interview location is private.

If interviewing a union employee, the SHO should work with the agency General Counsel to refer to the agency’s collective bargaining agreement and notify employees in writing that they have a right to union representation at the interview, if applicable. Always work with your General Counsel if you encounter any issues from a union.

TIP! The SHO should write down anticipated questions before interviewing a witness. This practice will give the interview direction and will ensure that all necessary topics and questions will be addressed. 

Opening the Interview

The SHO will want to open every interview with similar remarks. Here is a roadmap that may be used for opening an interview with a witness (See Attachment 5: Intro for Witness Interview):

  • Purpose. The SHO may state that they are investigating a workplace complaint and that their role is to investigate the matter by gathering as much information as possible. If it is the complainant being interviewed, the SHO should advise the complainant that their complaint is being investigated. If it is the alleged harasser being interviewed, the SHO should notify the individual that they are the subject of the investigation. 
  • Process. Explain that the investigation process involves interviewing multiple witnesses and reviewing any necessary documents. Witnesses must be made aware that the agency will take appropriate steps if it finds that misconduct has occurred.
  • Confidentiality. Explain that the interview will be treated as confidential as much as possible by the agency and that the agency hopes the witness will use discretion and limit their disclosure to others of anything discussed in the interview in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation process. Generally speaking, the SHO cannot, however, require the witness to maintain confidentiality. However, the SHO can inform the witness that they may be subject to discipline if any information from the interview is used in a manner that improperly obstructs or interferes with the investigation. The SHO should also not promise or guarantee a witness total confidentiality by the agency, as information from the investigation and subsequent actions will require the agency to disclose information about the complaint as necessary, such as to the alleged harasser in order to give them an opportunity to respond to the allegations against them. 
  • Retaliation. Explain that retaliation for a witness’s cooperation in the investigation is prohibited and that the witness should immediately notify an EEO counselor if any retaliation occurs due to the witness reporting sexual harassment or participating in the investigation process.
  • Rights and obligations. Explain rights and obligations of witnesses, including but not limited to their rights under a CBA, if applicable, and the obligation of government employees to cooperate in agency investigations of sexual harassment or misconduct complaints pursuant to Mayor’s Order 2023-131. Additionally, if the complaint includes allegations of sexual assault or other possible crimes, the SHO must let the complainant know that they may also get help from the D.C. Victim Hotline, which provides free confidential, around-the-clock information and referrals for victims of all crime in the District of Columbia. (The D.C. Victim Hotline is available by phone at 844-443-5732 and online at    
  • Questions or concerns. Ask the witness if they have any questions or concerns about the process.

Interviewing the Complainant(s)

Generally, the individual who is the alleged victim of sexual harassment should be the first person interviewed. The alleged victim should be interviewed within five days of acknowledging the initial complaint. The SHO should ask the individual to provide any and all potential evidence of offensive conduct such as emails, pictures, or other physical evidence. The alleged victim should be able to provide the clearest picture of the alleged misconduct and provide insight into other potential witnesses and evidence. In addition to being the first witness interviewed, this individual may need to be re-interviewed after documents are collected and statements are received from all other witnesses to clarify any inconsistencies in the evidence.

Harassment claims usually involve a pattern of multiple incidents that occur over a period of time. When interviewing the alleged victim, the SHO must ask precise questions and take clear notes. The best practice is to have the alleged victim list all incidents, then go through each incident in detail.

Sample Questions

  • What is your job title? How long have you been in this role?
  • What is your typical workday or work week like? Who is your supervisor? What time do you arrive? Leave? What are your typical responsibilities? Where is your workstation located?
  • What happened? How many incidents have there been?
  • When did each incident take place (date as well as time, if possible)? How often?
  • Where did they take place?
  • Who was involved? What did that person say or do?
  • How did you respond? Did you say anything to [the alleged harasser]? What did you say? Did you do anything?
  • Who else was present? Could anyone else have witnessed the incident(s)?
  • Where did you go immediately after the incident? Did you tell anyone what happened? Who?
  • Prior to these incidents, what was your relationship like with [the alleged harasser]? Are you aware of similar incidents with other employees?
  • Have you been affected by this? How?
  • Are there any documents or other kinds of evidence relating to the incidents? Were there any email communications? Did you take notes or make journal entries? Were there any additional conversations with others about the incidents?
  • When did you first report this and whom did you tell? What did you tell them? How did they respond? 
  • How would you like to see this problem resolved?
  • Is there anyone else you think I should interview regarding these incidents?
  • Is there anything else you think I should know while I am investigating this matter?
TIP! While these sample questions may be listed together, witnesses should always be asked one question at a time. Resist the urge to ask compound or long questions. Work with your General Counsel for other interview techniques.

Open-Ended Questions. When interviewing the alleged victim, a useful strategy is to ask open-ended questions. Ask: who, what, when, where, why and how. Try to keep closed-ended (yes/no) questions to a minimum. The goal is to get the witness to open up and tell you their story in their own words.

Victims who have trouble remembering important facts about the alleged sexual harassment may be experiencing trauma. In this case, usual interview questions may not be as helpful initially. Some experts suggest that such victims may benefit from the use of sensory-based interview questions (such as “do you remember what was playing on the radio in the car”; “what color was the room”; etc.) as these types of questions help place the victim back at the scene of the incident and may help jog their memory. It is recommended that SHOs review techniques for interviewing victims of trauma. 

Interviewing Third-Party Witnesses

After conducting an initial interview of the complainant, it is usually most effective to interview any third-party witnesses to the alleged harassment. Third-party witnesses are all other witnesses, excluding the alleged harasser. Interviewing third-party witnesses after the complainant allows the investigator to confirm or discount allegations made by the complainant and assists in obtaining a complete account of the potential misconduct before asking the accused employee to respond. A third-party witness should be interviewed within five days after the interview with the complainant. If there are multiple third-party witnesses that must be interviewed, each subsequent witness should be interviewed as close in time to the first third-party witness as possible, to complete the investigation in a timely fashion.

When questioning third-party witnesses, the goal is to gather as much information as possible without giving too much information away. The interview should begin by stating, in general terms, why the SHO is interviewing the witness. The SHO should inform the witness that they are investigating a workplace incident, and that the witness might have information that will help determine what occurred. Then, the SHO will need to move into questions that will help determine whether the witness saw or has information regarding the alleged incident(s).

Sample Questions

  • What is your position? How long have you been in this role?
  • What is your typical workday or work week like? Who is your supervisor? What time do you arrive? Leave? What are your typical responsibilities? Where is your workstation located?
  • Do you work with [the alleged victim] or the [accused employee]?
  • How would you characterize their working relationship?
  • Has [the alleged victim] ever spoken to you about [the accused]? Has the [accused employee] ever spoken to you about [the alleged victim]?
  • Have you seen any interactions between [the alleged victim] and [the accused] that made you uncomfortable? Have you seen any interactions that appeared to be of a sexual or inappropriate nature? Describe those interactions. Have you heard [the accused] speak to or about [the alleged victim] in a sexual or inappropriate nature? Describe those conversations.
  • [If the witness saw or heard anything that is the subject of the complaint, ask questions to find out what the witness saw/heard, where it occurred, and when.]
  • Have you heard these issues discussed in the workplace? When, where and by whom?
  • Have you ever had a problem working with [the alleged victim] or [the accused]? If so, what are those problems?
  • Do you know of anyone else who might have information about these incidents or who might have experienced similar treatment from [the accused]?
  • Are there any documents or other evidence you think I should review that relate to these incidents? Were there any email communications?
  • Based on our conversation, is there anything else you think I need to know as I continue my investigation?

If for some reason it is not possible to interview a third-party witness, the SHO should have the individual complete a declaration statement. (See Attachment 6: Witness Declaration – Template)

Interviewing the Alleged Harasser

As noted, the employee who allegedly engaged in the harassing behavior should usually be interviewed last. This interview will be uncomfortable for the employee and the SHO regardless of whether the accused employee engaged in the alleged conduct. To avoid the need for a follow-up interview, it is important to have as much information as possible before this interview.

An employee suspected of misconduct might be defensive when being interviewed. When opening the interview, the SHO should make clear that the agency has a legal obligation to investigate the matter and has not yet made any determination or judgments regarding the allegations. The SHO should also make clear that the SHO’s role is to be neutral and unbiased and to find out what happened. The accused employee’s perspective is part of information gathering and is needed before any conclusions can be reached.

Discuss with your General Counsel whether the accused employee is allowed to have a union or other representative present during the interview, although this should not unduly delay the interview process and SHOs are not required to permit such representative to disrupt the interview or answer questions during the interview on the employee’s behalf.

Is the alleged harasser’s participation in the interview voluntary? A SHO may encounter an alleged harasser who wants to avoid being interviewed. Before interviewing the alleged harasser(s), consult agency General Counsel on whether the accused employee should be compelled to participate in the investigation. Unless the case involves allegations of criminal conduct, their participation will usually be mandatory. However, this decision should be made by agency General Counsel.

The SHO also needs to plan the sequence of questions for the accused employee. The first series of questions should be simple, non-controversial questions that the employee can easily and willingly answer. This will establish ease and rapport, which may help to minimize any defensive tension that might otherwise occur.

The SHO must advise the employee of the accusations made against him or her. After preliminary introductions and questioning, the SHO must advise the accused employee(s) of the accusations made against them. Although the SHO may not need to identify the person who made the sexual harassment complaint, the SHO must allow the accused a fair opportunity to respond and thus may have to disclose the identity of the alleged victim or complainant.

When interviewing the accused, the SHO should outline the totality of the accusation and ask the accused for their response. Then, the SHO should walk through each event that comprises the harassment complaint and obtain specific responses for each event. The SHO must provide the accused employee an opportunity to offer explanations, denials, defenses, and potential witnesses and documentation for each event discussed.

 Sample Questions

  • What is your job title? How long have you been in this role?
  • What is your typical workday or work week like? What time do you arrive? Leave? What are your typical responsibilities? Where is your workstation located?
  • Do you supervise any employees? Who?
  • How would you characterize your working relationship with direct reports? Coworkers?
  • What is your relationship with [the alleged victim] like? How do you know him/her? How long?
  • [Tell the accused employee what misconduct is alleged or suspected.] What is your response to these allegations?
  • Did these things happen? What happened? When? Where?
  • How did [the alleged victim] respond? Did [he or she] indicate that your statements or actions were offensive? What did he or she say?
  • Did anyone witness these incidents?
  • Have you discussed or reported these incidents to anyone? Who?
  • Have you kept any notes or journals about these incidents?
  • [If the accused denies the allegations entirely:] Could another person have misunderstood your actions or statements? Do you think the allegations are made up? Why?
  • Have you ever used profane language in the workplace?
  • Have you ever used sexually explicit or suggestive language in the workplace?
  • Have you ever seen [the alleged victim] outside of work? Where? When?
  • Have you ever had a social relationship with [the alleged victim]? A romantic relationship? Have you ever asked [the alleged victim] out on a date? What was the response?
  • Have you ever been accused of workplace harassment? When? How was it resolved?
  • Have you ever received training on sexual harassment in the workplace? When?
  • Are you aware of the Mayor’s policy concerning sexual harassment? What is your understanding of the Mayor’s policy?  How do you know about the policy?
  • Are there others you can think of who might have information about these allegations?
  • Do you know of any documents or other physical evidence I should be reviewing during the investigation? Were there any email communications?
  • Is there anything else you think I need to know for purposes of this investigation?

Closing the Interview

After the SHO completes their interview questions, the SHO should review their notes of the interview and make sure all aspects of the allegation have been covered and responded to. The SHO should remind the interviewee about the District’s anti-retaliation policies. Witnesses should also be asked to report any new information to the SHO immediately.

Alleged victims and alleged harassers must be advised of what to expect next. This includes informing them that they may be interviewed again if necessary.

Documenting the Interview

The investigator must document the interview after its conclusion. The investigator can complete documentation in one of two ways. If the interview is recorded (which is the best practice), the investigator can document the interview by creating a transcription of the audio. If the interview is not recorded, or transcription services are unavailable, the investigator should draft a “memo to file” summarizing what was asked, and what the witnesses said in the interview. (See Attachment 7: Investigation Interview Summary Sample).

Summaries are only useful if they are reliable. Therefore, it is vital that summaries be drafted immediately following the interview. If drafting the summary immediately is impractical, it should be drafted no more than 24 hours after the interview.

Interview documentation must include notes as to the time, the length of any breaks or interruptions, who was present in the room, and copies of any handwritten notes. Handwritten notes must be signed and dated by the author.

Follow-Up Interviews

If credible and relevant information surfaces that implicates a previously interviewed witness, and that witness did not have an opportunity to provide comments or respond to that information, the SHO must conduct a follow-up interview.

If new accusations or defenses arise, the alleged victim and the alleged harasser(s) must have a fair opportunity to respond. Except when they are trivial, new developments of this nature require follow-up interviews of the necessary witnesses.

Step 6. Gather Documents and Physical Evidence

Throughout the interview process, the SHO will likely discover potential evidence which may include: emails, text messages, voice mail messages, letters, notes, journals, photographs, time and attendance records, building access records, video recordings, gifts, offensive objects, personnel records, policies, and other relevant items. The SHO must obtain evidence before, during, and immediately following the interview process. All items must be saved in a secure location during the course of the investigation. Speak with your General Counsel to determine the most appropriate and secure manner to store all evidence.

If a SHO requires assistance in obtaining evidence, the SHO should consult with the agency General Counsel. If necessary, the agency General Counsel may request e-mail, telephonic, and building access records from the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) or Department of General Services (DGS). Moreover, the agency General Counsel may be able to assist with securing other types of evidence, if needed.

Step 7. Evaluate the Evidence

Once the SHO has completed all interviews and obtained all available physical evidence, the SHO must weigh the evidence to determine what happened and whether the allegations are substantiated or not. The SHO will need to evaluate the evidence by, for example, comparing and assessing statements made by witnesses (including assessing any information about witness credibility and reviewing witness statements for similarities and inconsistencies), reviewing the evidence for patterns and trends, and assessing the accuracy, completeness and reliability of documents and other physical evidence.

Standard of Proof. The SHO must decide what the facts are in any given investigation. A “fact” is an actual event or circumstance established by the evidence. The standard applied is a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means that the evidence shows, more likely than not, that an alleged event or circumstance occurred. It is not enough that alleged conduct could have occurred. Instead, the SHO must determine that it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct actually occurred. Otherwise, the SHO must deem the allegation unsubstantiated. 

Assemble the Evidence

Before beginning the evaluation of evidence, the SHO should assemble the evidence into a logical order and label each item for easy reference in an appropriately indexed investigative file. At this stage, almost every piece of evidence should have been documented. Therefore, the easiest assembly is to arrange each document in chronological order, labeling each piece of evidence in sequence as Exhibit 1, 2, 3 and so forth. Since the investigation plan is updated to include all evidence as the investigation progresses, it should be an easy matter to simply number the evidence listed in the plan.

Be sure to use a common identification method for all documents. A good practice is to use the format of “Document Title, document type/author (Date).” A sample list of evidence might look like the following:

  1. Karen Connor Appointment to Program Administrator, SF-50 (April 2, 2018)
  2. Daniel Smith Appointment to Program Analyst, SF-50 (March 15, 2019)
  3. FY 2021 Performance Evaluation, Daniel Smith (4 rating) (Dec. 1, 2021)
  4. FY 2022 Performance Evaluation, Daniel Smith (4 rating) (Dec. 7, 2022)
  5. Party Tonight?, email message from Karen Connor to Daniel Smith, and his reply (Oct. 2, 2023)
  6. FY 2023 Performance Evaluation, Daniel Smith (2 rating) (Dec. 8, 2023)
  7. Interview of Daniel Smith, transcription (Jan. 17, 2024)
  8. Interview of Samuel Adams, transcription (Jan. 22, 2024)
  9. Interview of Jack Daniels, transcription (Jan. 22, 2024)
  10. Interview of Karen Connor, transcription (Jan 25, 2024)


Sexual harassment investigations will invariably involve conflicting accounts of the same events. The SHO must consider each version of the facts and evaluate the credibility of competing evidence. When deciding the credibility of one version of events over another, the SHO should consider the factors below, none of which are dispositive on their own.

Credibility Considerations

  • Plausibility. Which version of the facts makes the most sense? Does one version defy logic or common sense?
  • Direct Knowledge. Did the witness see and hear the events they described, or does the witness rely on secondhand information? Secondhand information is typically less credible than firsthand knowledge.
  • Details. How general or specific is the evidence? Specific details, particularly when supported by other evidence, are usually more credible than vague and unsubstantiated allegations.
  • Corroboration. Are statements and other documents corroborated by other evidence?
  • Contradictions. Are the witness’s statements inherently consistent? If a witness’s statements are inherently inconsistent, then their statements may be less credible.
  • Omissions. Did any of the witnesses leave out details that they should have known/mentioned? If so, is the omission reasonable?
  • Prior Incidents. Has the alleged victim made similar complaints in the past about others? Does the accused employee have a documented history of this type of misconduct?
  • Motive. Do any of the witnesses have a motive to lie or exaggerate about the incident(s)? Do any of the witnesses have loyalty to or hold a grudge against any of the parties?
  • Credibility. Do any of the witnesses have a history within the workplace that affects their credibility?

Authenticity of Evidence

Issues of authenticity pertain to when a particular piece of evidence is not what it appears to be. Information that a piece of evidence was forged or altered would raise an issue as to its authenticity. Evidence collected from records, databases, or other reliable sources such as official agency files can be presumed authentic unless there is a specific reason to believe otherwise. Key pieces of evidence should be authenticated by witness testimony if possible. For example, if an employee sends a note, ask that employee if they did indeed send the note and have them identify the note on the record. If issues of authenticity arise, they must be resolved.

Tell the Story with the Facts

After assembling and assessing all the evidence, the SHO is ready to determine and list each relevant fact in the case. For this purpose, a statement is “factual” if it describes an event or a thing in a manner that does not require substantial interpretation or characterization. Best practice is to list each individual fact that is needed to explain to someone who has no knowledge of the case, who the parties are, what happened, and why it matters. List the facts in a sequence that makes sense (e.g., chronologically) and in a manner that tells a compelling story of events. For each fact listed, the SHO must cite all evidentiary support for that fact.

At this phase, the SHO is not stating conclusions or opinions. However, if a witness disputes a fact, the SHO must weigh the competing evidence and decide which version is most credible and more likely than not to be true. For disputed facts, the SHO will list the disputed fact, citing all the evidentiary support. The SHO must also note that the fact was in dispute, how it was in dispute, and how the SHO resolved the factual dispute, if possible. For each statement explaining the resolution of a disputed fact, the SHO must cite evidentiary support.

As noted, for each fact listed, the SHO must cite the pieces of evidence that establish that fact. Factual listings should be as concise as possible. Undisputed facts should be no more than one sentence. Disputed facts should be no more than three sentences.

Sample factual listing

  1. Ms. Karen Connor was initially appointed to the D.C. Department of Micro Farming as a Program Administrator on April 2, 2018 (Ex. 1).
  2. Mr. Daniel Smith is a Program Analyst with the D.C. Department of Micro Farming, who was appointed on March 15, 2019 (Ex. 2).
  3. Between FY 2021 and FY 2022, Mr. Smith was an excellent performer, receiving a rating of 4 out of 5 on his performance evaluations (Ex. 3, 4).
  4. On August 17, 2023, Ms. Connor asked Mr. Smith to report to her office. (Ex. 7).
  5. Within seconds of arriving in her office, Ms. Connors closed the door and started to share stories about her personal sex life (Ex. 7). For example, Ms. Connor informed Mr. Smith that she is a “swinger” (Ex. 7). She also shared that her husband has a girlfriend, and she allows her son to watch pornography (Ex. 7).
  6. Mr. Smith informed Ms. Connor that this conversation was unwelcome and made him uncomfortable (Ex. 7).
  7. Over the next few weeks, Ms. Connor spoke about her sex life any time she encountered Mr. Smith in the office. (Ex. 7). 
  8. On October 2, 2023, Ms. Connor sent Mr. Smith an email in which she requested Mr. Smith join her for a “swingers” party (Ex. 5).
  9. Mr. Smith declined the invitation to the party via email (Ex. 5).
  10. Over the next few weeks, Ms. Connor stopped by Mr. Smith’s office on multiple occasions to see if Mr. Smith would accompany her to a “swingers” party (Ex. 7).
  11. Mr. Smith declined each invitation and verbally requested that she to stop inviting him to parties. (Ex. 7)
  12. On November 16, 2023, Ms. Connor told Mr. Smith that his performance rating would be adversely impacted if he did not consent to attending a “swingers” party (Ex. 7). In her interview, Ms. Connor disputed that her invitation was for a “swingers” party as known as a sexual event (Ex. 9). However, during witness interviews, two employees, Mr. Adams and Mr. Daniels, stated that Ms. Connor verbally asked them, prior to sending the email, whether Mr. Smith might be interested in “swinging” with her (Ex. 8 and 10).
  13. On December 8, 2023, Ms. Connor issued Mr. Smith’s performance evaluation for FY 2023, rating him as “needing improvement,” or 2 out of a possible 5 (Ex. 6).
  14. When pressed on specific performance criteria used in prior performance evaluations, Ms. Connor could not articulate why she rated Mr. Smith a 2 (Ex. 9). She further indicated that his performance in those areas was properly scored in the past (Ex. 9). Mr. Daniels and Mr. Adams provided statements asserting that Mr. Smith’s previous performance was excellent and that he had a reputation of being a top performing employee. (Ex. 8 and 9).
  15. Mr. Smith filed a sexual harassment complaint against Ms. Connor on January 5, 2024.
  16. On January 10, 2024, Ms. Connor reassigned one of Mr. Smith’s major projects to another Program Analyst.
Importance of Sound Facts. he SHO’s listing of facts will later be relied upon by the agency Head or designee when drafting the Agency Report in response to the sexual harassment complaint. The Agency will need to apply the SHO’s factual listing to the applicable standards found in Mayor’s Order 2023-131 to determine whether sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct may or may not have occurred. Therefore, it is important for the SHO to identify all the evidence relied upon to support the facts listed and to apply the preponderance of the evidence standard appropriately when determining what is factual. Information deemed factual by the SHO, but which is not adequately supported by the evidence or which the preponderance of the evidence indicates otherwise may be questioned by the Agency and result in a continuation of the investigation in order to clarify the facts.

Step 8. Document the Investigation

Having fully investigated the matter, evaluated the evidence, and confirmed the facts pertaining to the allegation(s), the SHO must reduce the totality of the investigation into a written investigation report that confirms what did or did not happen based on a preponderance of the evidence. However, the SHO does not make legal conclusions as to whether sexual harassment occurred, or whether the Mayor’s Order was violated. The SHO is expected to issue an investigation report to the agency head, or his or her designee, within 60 days after a claim is reported to the agency.  It is recommended that each investigation report contain the elements listed below. A sample investigation report is attached for guidance. (See Attachment 8: Investigation Report Sample)

Report elements

  • Executive Summary. The executive summary provides a concise summary of the entire report. It should state why an investigation was conducted, and list the high-level facts revealed by the evidence.
  • Scope of the Investigation. This section outlines what the allegation was, how it came to the SHO, and the steps the SHO took to investigate the case. The steps taken should be a chronology of events within the investigation, including the date, time, and actions taken to further the investigation. List all of the witnesses interviewed, and the date and location of each interview in the chronology of events.
  • Documentary and Physical Evidence. This section lists all of the documents and other physical evidence collected in support of the investigation.
  • Allegations and List of Facts. This section lists the original allegations and the facts (relevant to each allegation) that have been substantiated, or not substantiated, based on the evidence.
  • Notes. This section lists any miscellaneous topics that are important to the complaint but did not fit into another category. For example, if the complainant alleges retaliation, which is outside the scope of the SHO’s investigation, this should be mentioned in this section so that the General Counsel and Agency Head are aware that another investigation may be necessary to conduct.

Step 9. Next Steps After Reporting Outcome of Investigation

The SHO must share the investigation report with the Agency Head, or his or her designee, in order for the agency to draft the Agency Report. The SHO shall not provide the investigation report to the parties or witnesses involved in the investigation (nor to any other unauthorized party), as the investigation report is deliberative, may require additional work (as determined by the Agency Head or designee), and does not constitute the agency’s official findings regarding the matter investigated. If the SHO is unable to complete the investigation report within the 60-day period, the SHO must immediately notify the agency General Counsel.

Following review of the investigation report and determination of next steps, the Agency Head, or designee, shall authorize additional investigation if necessary or draft the Agency Report. The SHOs role is complete once the Agency Head accepts the SHO investigation report as final.

The Agency Head or designee, in close consultation with the agency General Counsel, has 14 days after the SHO investigation report is accepted to issue an Agency Report, which among other things accepts, modifies or rejects the SHO’s findings, includes conclusions as to whether the substantiated allegations violate the Mayor’s Order, and includes the SHO investigation report as an attachment. Separately, the agency will also issue the Notice of Agency Findings and Conclusions, which simply lists the allegations and the agency’s determinations as to whether the allegations were substantiated or not. The Notice of Agency Findings and Conclusions is the official agency document that will be shared with the following external parties: the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel (MOLC), the complainant, and the alleged harasser.

Based on the agency’s findings and conclusions, the Agency Head or designee may need to take additional steps with the assistance of the agency General Counsel and the internal HR department. At minimum, an agency should ensure that its employees are trained, and if needed re-trained, on the agency’s and Districts sexual harassment or other policies. If an agency’s policy is vague or contains gaps that may lead to confusion around appropriate employee conduct or work-related expectations, the agency should update its policies accordingly.

When the agency concludes that misconduct has occurred, the agency General Counsel should ensure that prompt administrative action is taken by the agency. Please note that an employee who is found to have engaged in inappropriate conduct who is not terminated must attend mandatory sexual harassment training within sixty (60) days of his or her receiving notice of the finding. This training must be in addition to any disciplinary actions and must occur even if the employee has already received sexual harassment training.

In addition to imposing discipline on the employee found to have engaged in misconduct, the agency may also have an obligation to report credible violations of the District’s Code of Conduct to the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA). Such violations of the Code of Conduct may arise where the employee has engaged in ethical violations such as giving gifts to employees for sexual favors, bribing witnesses or potential reporters of sexual harassment, or using government resources to carry out the harassing behavior.



  1. Sexual Harassment Policy, Guidance and Procedures, Mayor’s Order 2023-131 (Oct. 31, 2023)
  2. Human Rights and Relations, Title 4 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations (see §§ 101 and 102.1(a))
  3. Corrective and Adverse Actions; Enforced Leave; and Grievances, Title 6-B, Chapter 16 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations
  4. Employee Conduct, Title 6-B, Chapter 18 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations
  5. Human Rights Enhancement Amendment Act of 2022
  6. D.C. Law 24-172
  7. D.C. Official Code § 2-1402.11(c-2)


The provisions of this issuance apply to all District agencies under the Mayor’s personnel authority.

Additional Information

For additional information concerning this issuance, please contact the Department of Human Resources, Sexual Harassment Officer Program Coordinator, by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Sexual Harassment Officers can find relevant trainings (including the required annual training) at as well as a training on Unpacking Bias on PeopleSoft (#0123W).


  1. Attachment 1 - Example Case Study
  2. Attachment 2a - Investigation Plan Template
  3. Attachment 2b - Investigation Plan Sample
  4. Attachment 3a - Confidentiality Notice - Complainant
  5. Attachment 3b - Confidentiality Notice - Subject
  6. Attachment 3c - Confidentiality notice - Witness
  7. Attachment 4a - Sample Notification - Complainant
  8. Attachment 4b- Sample Notification - Subject
  9. Attachment 4c - Sample Notification - Witness
  10. Attachment 5 - Intro for Witness Interview
  11. Attachment 6 - Witness Declaration - Template
  12. Attachment 7 - Investigation Interview Summary Sample
  13. Attachment 8a - Investigation Report Template
  14. Attachment 8b - Investigation Report Sample

Issued by Director Charles Hall Jr, D.C. Department of Human Resources on June 12, 2024, midnight