The Justice Department has a zero tolerance policy against harassment, including sexual harassment, in its workplace but the Civil Rights Division has “significant weaknesses” in tracking, reporting, and investigating such charges, the Justice IG has said.
A report said for example that the division’s HR department maintains paper records of the case files of the allegations it handles, “which we found to be insufficient.” In addition, the division lacks consistent criteria for reporting allegations to that department, including a lack of standards for preserving information, it said.
As a result, in a review of 11 cases “we were unable to reconstruct the facts, investigation, or adjudication because the information contained in the case files was inadequate,” a report said.
Separately, IG Michael Horowitz issued a memo stating that such findings “necessitate the Department’s attention to assess the handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations across all components.”
He said his office “has consistently identified potentially significant and recurring issues concerning the components’ handling of sexual harassment and misconduct allegations and their enforcement of the department’s zero tolerance policy.”
“When employees engage in such misconduct, it profoundly affects the victim and affects the agency’s reputation, undermines the agency’s credibility, and lowers employee productivity and morale. Without strong action from the department to ensure that DOJ employees meet the highest standards of conduct and accountability, the systemic issues we identified in our work may continue,” he wrote to departmental leadership.