Thirty-five percent of Interior Department employees responding to an anonymous survey conducted in the spring reported that they had been harassed in the prior 12 months, the department has said.
Interior earlier had announced results specific to its National Park Service component, which has been the subject of complaints by employees over the past year, primarily involving sexual harassment, that received national publicity.
Of the more than 28,000 employees who responded–44 percent of the department’s workforce–21 percent said they had experienced age-related harassment, 17 percent gender-related harassment, 9 percent harassment because of race or ethnicity, and 8 percent sexual harassment. Harassment based on religion, disability and sexual orientation fell in the 4-7 percent range.
“All employees have the right to work in a safe and harassment-free environment. I’ve already fired a number of predators … When I say ‘zero tolerance’ I mean that these people will be held accountable for their abhorrent actions,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
Along with announcing the results, the department sent a memo to components telling them to develop and submit a formal action plan within 45 days to address their specific survey results. Those plans are to include a schedule for accomplishing those actions and a description of how they will assess success.
Also under development is a new harassment policy that will include a mandatory process for reporting allegations up the chain of command. A similar policy applying specifically to the NPS was issued earlier.
The department further has revised the performance standards for managers and supervisors to require that their performance ratings reflect their success or failure in holding employees accountable for harassing conduct. It also has set new standards for investigating allegations of misconduct and has trained employee relations and employment law practitioners on conducting those investigations.