Nearly a tenth of IRS said in response to a survey that within the last five years they personally had experienced gender-based harassment, a similar share said they had experienced unwanted sexual attention, and 2 percent said they had experienced sexual coercion.
In addition, in a survey conducted by the IG there, 45 percent said sexual harassment occurs at the agency sometimes and another 7 percent said it occurs frequently. Almost all of the rest said they do not know, with only 5 percent saying it does not occur.
Further, nearly three-fourths of those reporting they personally had such experiences said they did not report them. The most common reasons for not reporting were that they were unsure if the behavior was serious enough to warrant reporting and fear of retaliation for reporting.
Some 26,000 employees responded to the survey, which the IG conducted as part of a general review of sexual harassment policies at the agency. That review found, for example, that the agency lacks a central system to collect, monitor and evaluate such complaints as recommended by the EEOC, and that without such a central system “the IRS cannot ensure that investigations into all allegations are timely completed and resolved.”
Auditors said that in a review of 54 sexual harassment allegations, they found that “there is no consistency or standardized approach to document management investigations or the investigations’ overall findings, conclusions, and recommendations.” For 13 of the allegations, they “could not find documentation to support that management conducted an investigation or if any corrective action was taken.”
Also, in some cases management did not identify allegations as potential sexual harassment when selecting offenses to charge the employee with during the disciplinary adjudication process. More than half of the penalties imposed on employees deviated from the recommendations in the IRS penalty guide, it added.