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New report finds sexual harassment continues to plague federal agencies

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment remains a problem within federal agencies despite efforts to address it. Recent reports highlight the ongoing challenges and the serious consequences that stem from a workplace culture that fails to intervene and address instances of harassment.

Report finds harassment in federal agencies “persistent” and underreported

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finds that sexual harassment remains a longstanding problem in the federal workplace. According to the report, harassment is significantly underreported, and it has been the primary concern in employment discrimination complaints within federal agencies for more than a decade.

The GAO’s report is not the only one to call attention to this issue. Others include:

  • EEOC. A 2023 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report also notes that harassment is a top issue in the federal sector.
  • MSPB. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) found in a 2021 survey that nearly 13 percent of employees experienced sexual harassment in the previous two years.

The MSPB further reports that sexual harassment has a negative impact on both victims and witnesses, leading to decreased productivity and job satisfaction. Employees may take leave to avoid harassers or to recover from stress-related illnesses. The ultimate decision for some is to leave their positions.

The cost of harassment

A 2016 EEOC task force report highlighted the mental, physical, and economic harm to employees who face harassment and found the true cost of workplace harassment extends to decreased productivity, higher turnover, and reputational damage.

Victims have options

The persistence of sexual harassment in federal agencies undermines the integrity and efficacy of these organizations. Federal employees do not have to put up with this type of toxic workplace environment. Sexual harassment is illegal and federal employees can bring claims to hold violators accountable.

While awareness of the negative impact of sexual harassment has increased, more effective measures are required to prevent harassment and to support those who have been affected. The legal implications are significant, and agencies must continue to develop and enforce policies that address these issues head-on, working towards building an environment where all employees feel safe and respected.


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