Sexual harassment in the workplace is bad enough, but when employees do not feel supported by their agency directors and supervisors, the experience becomes much worse. Recently, the director of Veterans Affairs for Northern California Health Care System has changed his tune regarding some comments he made about harassment in the workplace. Three women have made sexual harassment claims against VA supervisors, alleging that they were victims of harassment and stalking. Sexual harassment in the workplace is demeaning, demoralizing and traumatizing to employees and contributes to a toxic work environment.
The VA director had come under fire for some comments he made about ongoing sexual harassment issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In an interview, he initially defended the investigation process at the VA, and encouraged women who were not satisfied with the internal investigations to vote with their feet if they did not approve of the results of internal investigations. He mentioned that employees had the option to leave the agency or to go outside of the agency to seek a remedy for their situation.
Some employees saw the comments as extremely offensive. After the backlash, it seems that the director and the VA office has had a change of heart. In a statement later issued by the VA, the VA emphasized that all allegations of harassment are taken seriously and must be addressed. The VA went on to say that there will be legal and administrative consequences for employees who participate in such criminal harassment.
Employees are protected by the law against sexual harassment at work. It is vital to the safety and well-being of employees that they are able to come to work at a place that is free from abuse and mistreatment. Employees in California who may be experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace have the right to contact an attorney to seek counsel as to how they may best seek justice and hold the responsible parties accountable.
Source: CBS News, “VA director apologizes for comments about sexual harassment claims“, May 3, 2017