The Inspector General of the Department of Justice just released a disastrous report, detailing a toxic culture, in which sexual harassment was a systemic problem.
The report shows that response to harassment claims are frequently inadequate, or never even taken. With some employees being found guilty of the grossest misconduct, getting off with less than a warning. The report found that repeat sexual harassers received limited penalties, and the trajectory of their government career with rarely modified – as they went on to receive the expected bonuses, raises and promotions.
As per the report, the complains about the sexually inappropriate behavior have been on the rise for the last 5 years, and advised that the problem requires urgent “high level action.” The report further mentioned a few complains that involves high level officials.
“We’re talking about presidential appointees, political appointees, FBI special agents in charge, U.S. attorneys, wardens, a chief deputy U.S. marshal, a U.S. marshal assistant director, a deputy assistant attorney general,” explained DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz.
Horowitz further said that he had stumbled across some of the most troubling cases of alleged sexual misconduct in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
In one of the similar cases, a top lawyer was accused of groping two of female trial attorneys and made sexual advances and comments in the workplace. This particular lawyer had a history of sexual misconduct and had even been demoted and disciplined for sending sexually explicit emails to his colleagues.
The Lawyer, however, was never suspended, nor did he ever face a pay or grade drop. Furthermore, the report of inspector general said that “presented potential criminal assault violations, yet we found no evidence in the case file that a referral was made to the [Inspector General] or any other law enforcement entity.”
Another one of the similar cases about a different lawyer who stalked the female staffer by breaking into her personal email and “catfishing” her and by creating various fake profiles to interact with her.
The attorney in question was transferred to a different section of the division, further, banned from being in the building, where the stalked woman worked. However, he was never suspended, punished or saw a pay drop other than a simply written warning.
The lawyer was recently given a performance award for his work in the division. None of the aforementioned lawyers returned the requests for comments.
Justice Department spokesman, Ian Prior, responded to the damning report, saying that the department “does not discuss specific employee disciplinary actions or comment on personnel actions or matters that may impact personal privacy. That said, the Department was very disappointed with the issues that occurred in the Obama administration and strives for a workplace free of harassment and other misconduct for all of our 115,000 employees. That is why the Civil Division has implemented additional safeguards and systems to ensure that all misconduct allegations are handled appropriately going forward.”
Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein was warned by the Horowitz about the pervasive sexual harassment taking place in the department via memo in May of 2017.
Rosenstein has since then created a working group to come up with possible solutions that help rehabilitate the culture within the bureaucracy.