In a recently released study or “workplace environment assessment” of the Pacific Southwest Region obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, it is reported that women in the Forest Service industry working in California reported enduring sexual misconduct, harassment and fear of retaliation if they voiced complaints. General satisfaction with the workplace was voiced by many employees, but the 2015 survey indicates that there is a clear difference when responses are considered by gender. Women were significantly more likely to identify serious problems.
The grievances covered in the study ranged widely from misdeeds to mismanagement, but they did seem reminiscent of complaints lodged by women in the military and other general federal agencies. Some notable concerns included: inappropriate behavior from supervisors on the job, derogatory or patronizing attitudes towards women on the job, a lack of accountability when issues arise, a lack of respect towards subordinates, etc.
One conclusion noted in the study was that a male-dominated workforce can lead to a number of negative consequences for women in the field.
The report was commissioned by the Forest Service. It was prepared by a consulting firm, ICF International, and provided to McClatchy on May 18th after a December 1st FOIA request. The report falls in line with other, similar investigations conducted by congressional committee as well as the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General. All the sources identified similar “management missteps” and alleged mistreatment of women on the job in the National Park Services. Some view it as an exposure of a systemic problem in the government’s public lands departments and agencies. It was indicated that remote locations where a separate code of conduct for providing discipline is seen as acceptable might have contributed to the problem.
Members of the Congressional Caucus on Women’s Issues hoped to have a hearing later in 2017 regarding the National park Service and Forest Service workforce controversies.
If you have questions about workplace retaliation or if you experience sexual harassment in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.