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Military Harassment Laws

Harassment takes on many different forms. Verbal and sexual harassment seems to be two of the top forms of harassment. However, harassment can be used in other aspects. Many people go to the Experts to find answers to the many questions about harassment. Military harassment questions are answered by the Military Experts every day. Below are five of the top military harassment questions that have been answered by the Experts.

What can a soldier do if he is being harassed by his new chain of command?

If the harassment is something that can be ignored, then the soldier should continue to follow orders and move on. Or, speak with the commanding officer (CO) on how to handle it. If, however, it is the CO who is doing the harassment then, the soldier will need to file a Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) complaint, Article 138.

Article 138 is one of the most powerful rights under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), but it is one of the rights least known and least used by military personnel. Under Article 138 of the UCMJ, "any member of the armed forces who believes himself (or herself) wronged by his (or her) commanding officer" may request redress. If such redress is refused, a complaint may be made and a superior officer must "examine into the complaint."

This provision gives every member of the Armed Forces the right to complain that he or she was wronged by his or her commanding officer. The right even extends to those subject to the UCMJ on inactive duty for training. 

Matters appropriate to address under Article 138 include discretionary acts or omissions by a commander that adversely affect the member personally and are:

  • In violation of law or regulation,
  • Beyond the legitimate authority of that commander,
  • Arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion, or
  • Clearly unfair (e.g., selective application of standards).

If a civilian woman is sexually assaulted by a retired military officer, where should she file the complaint?

You should go to a civilian courthouse nearest to the location of the incident. You can file a criminal complaint and a restraining order against the man if he is fully retired from the military. If you need assistance in filling the forms out, the court clerk can help you. If the assault happened while the military officer was on active duty, the UCMJ has provisions that allow the recall of the retired member to active duty for the sole purpose of courts-martial.

Is gender harassment illegal and can a soldier sue the Army for this?

Gender harassment of any kind is illegal in the military; however, you cannot sue the military for this. The Feres Doctrine prohibits service members from suing the military for any injuries that they sustain while on active duty. You need to report the harassment to your commanding officer. They will have the policy on harassment and can take action for you.

What can a sailor do if harassed by a superior and creating a hostile work environment?

You need to file an Article 1150 complaint against the person who is harassing you. If your CO is allowing this type of behavior, you can file a complaint under Art. 138, UCMJ. Your CO cannot retaliate against you for filing either complaint. It is your right to submit the complaints and the retaliation is prohibited. Another option for you would be to file a complaint with the Inspector General. You can also request a formal complaint with the Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO).

What can happen if a civilian files a claim that a soldier is harassing them?

In most cases, there will be an investigation on any claim. If the claim involves sexual harassment or sexual assault, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) usually gets involved. However, if it is verbal harassment, generally a 15-6 investigation will be performed.

Harassment can be found in every area of the workforce and our daily lives. Military harassment is one of the more stressful types of harassment. The Experts offer legal insight to the military laws and offer solutions to your individual situations. The Experts can explain military law and explain your legal rights.

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