In light of increased awareness of sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace, investigations and policy revisions are happening all over the country. One congresswoman is sounding the alarm in the Department of Veterans Affairs in particular after survey numbers showed reports of sexual harassment there were higher than average across departments in the federal government. Of female respondents, 26 percent said they had experienced sexual harassment, and 14 percent of male respondents between 2014 and 2016, according to a report from Stars and Stripes. In fact, VA respondents reported the highest rates of sexual harassment, with Department of Homeland Security coming in second. This compares to 21 percent of women and 9 percent of men across federal departments as a whole. The survey collected data on a variety of behaviors, ranging from teasing to stalking and sexual assault. Gender harassment led the survey in reported incidents, with unwanted sexual attention and sexual coercion following behind.
Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH), ranking Democrat on the Veterans’s Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations, has called on the chairman of the subcommittee to hold a congressional oversight hearing on the matter. Her response came on the heels of findings being released by the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent group that is housed within the executive branch whose mission is to protect the rights of government workers. Continue reading