16:07 GMT07 July 2020
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    A recent inspector general audit found that senior Justice Department employees who groped and stalked their female colleagues, along with other acts of sexual harassment, were often promoted and even given bonuses rather than facing disciplinary action.

    Attorneys accused of harassment were usually transferred, in violation of the government’s “no tolerance” policy towards sexual harassment.

    Further, the audit found that "Civil Division employees received performance awards while a sexual harassment or misconduct investigation was ongoing or while disciplinary actions were in effect." 

    One senior attorney only received a title change and a written reprimand after making "sexually charged and offensive comments" and groping “the breasts and buttocks of two female trial attorneys without their consent during an office happy hour."    

    Despite "prior misconduct and the seriousness of the second incident," he was not suspended, but was relieved of supervisor duties and ended up receiving a number of awards for his performance.

    The inspector general highlighted another incident in which "a GS-15 senior attorney admitted to stalking another attorney and hacking into her personal email account … The senior attorney then conducted a 'catfishing' operation on the other attorney, resulting in his revelation to the other attorney several weeks later that he had used a fictitious online profile to entice her." 

    That attorney also received a title change and a reprimand, along with a transfer within the Civil Division. He was also disallowed from entering the building where his victim worked for a year.

    On more than once occasion a male attorney was accused of peering into the office windows of his female colleagues while they were pumping breastmilk. He later received a performance award and a bonus.

    After counseling the attorney on the issue his supervisor "accepted the male attorney's explanation of the incident as an honest mistake," even though he had accusations of impropriety going back to 2009.

    The attorney general suggested that the tepid responses to these and other incidents were often out of proportion to the seriousness of the complaints, and questioned whether departments were in compliance with the zero tolerance policy.

    The watchdog agency suggested that the department "take immediate and appropriate corrective action to address all allegations of harassment."

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    Tags:
    Sexual Harassment, US Department of Justice, United States
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