A recent report that came out from the Justice Department (DOJ) appears to indicate that multiple sexual harassment charges have been filed within the DOJ. The new policies and guidelines set up by the DOJ seek to create a harassment free work environment through a zero tolerance policy, but it’s vital to note that survivors often need more support than simply having the perpetrator removed. Simply incorporating a zero tolerance policy will not be enough to address the systemic issues of harassment and favoritism at the DOJ, there needs to be a culture shift to support and advocate for all employees, but especially survivors of sexual harassment and violence.
It appears that the DOJ is focused more on maintaining the credibility of the agency than about the mental health of those affected by sexual harassment. One particular case illustrates how little the DOJ is focusing on the survivors of sexual harassment because they simply switch the offenders to a different department, rather than working with the survivor to set up a safer environment for herself. This has been a pattern as discussed in the Washington Post as early as last February. This appears to have affected the overall work environment, with reports surfacing that accuse leaders in the death penalty unit in the DOJ of creating a culture of sexism and favoritism. With the #MeToo movement gaining traction especially in the United States Entertainment industry, there are even more eyes on the DOJ to figure out how to address systemic sexual harassment in their department.
Ultimately, there’s a large focus on getting sued versus actively changing the culture of sexual harassment and violence within a federal agency. Trump hasn’t actively put forth any type of resources to further investigate the negative culture at the DOJ, but officials within the DOJ have made statements recommending further investigation into the extent of the problem. As often goes with these cases, it’s unclear how changes will be made to further support survivors of sexual violence and harassment in the workforce. The focus is often made on simply covering up the story and moving forward in a way that satiates the needs of the media and recovers optics, versus supporting survivors in adequate ways.
Equal Rights Advocates – Read more about ways you can become a better advocate and bystander to call out workplace harassment and donate time or money to this organization dedicated to improving equity for women.
Time’s Up – Support this legal fund dedicated to providing aid to women undergoing legal battles around sexual misconduct and violence.
As always, contact your state’s elected officials and voice your concerns or support.
This Brief was compiled by Sophia Adams. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.