What happens if sexual harassment occurs within the government agency that is tasked with dealing with this very issue? For the over 115,000 staff members of the U.S. Department of Justice, a new set of sexual harassment guidelines is meant to answer that exact question.
Recently, the U.S. Justice Department published its latest set of sexual harassment guidelines for dealing with sexual harassment issues within the department itself. According to the Justice Department, the new guidelines are meant to ensure that employees who are found guilty of sexual misconduct receive serious and consistent punishment.
The new regulations follow an investigation conducted by the Inspector General of the Justice Department. Included in the Inspector General’s report were descriptions of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other types of sexual misconduct that have occurred within the department. Some of the listed offenses included solicitation of prostitutes, requesting that colleagues watch pornography, instructors having sexual intercourse with trainees, groping of administrative assistants at restaurants, sending explicit sexual texts, and stalking.
Other Justice Department employees have reported incidents of retaliation after coming forward with sexual harassment claims. By issuing new regulations, the Justice Department seeks to prevent a pattern of offensive conduct from developing with respect to sexual misconduct in the department.
In addition to requiring consistent punishments for sexual misconduct offenders, the new guidelines require that the Justice Department put measures in place to protect the victims of sexual harassment as their cases are being investigated. The new guidelines also require the Justice Department to systematically track sexual harassment claims, including the nature of the sexual harassment, when and to whom the sexual harassment claim was reported, and the resulting disciplinary action taken. Managers are directed to consider any allegations or disciplinary actions before bestowing awards or public commendations on the accused offender. Another guideline sets forth the penalty for substantiated sexual harassment as ranging from a 15-day suspension to removal.
Many Justice Department employees are wary of the inconsistent enforcement of sexual harassment guidelines that has taken place in the past. It took over eight months for the Deputy Attorney General to respond to the Inspector General’s investigative report and many employees cite examples of sexual misconduct offenders remaining employed by the Justice Department, despite the existence of previous guidelines. It remains to be seen whether the new sexual harassment guidelines can eliminate some of the enforcement problems.
Critics of the new regulations argue that the new directives many not be applied fairly across the Justice Department. As a result, not all Justice Department employees would receive the same protection from sexual misconduct. Each separate unit within the Justice Department would have discretion with respect to the enforcement of these guidelines.
For example, one prosecutorial office could mandate that all complaints be investigated within a business day, while another office could impose a mandatory 30-day waiting period. This appears to contradict with recommendations from the Inspector General that there should be equal policy enforcements within the entire Department of Justice.
Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Victims of Sexual Harassment
If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual harassment, the experienced Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia to best serve individuals throughout the surrounding areas, including Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. To schedule your free consultation today, call us at 215-569-1999 or submit an online inquiry form.