Lawmakers in New Jersey and across the nation are demanding immediate policy changes from the Department of Veterans Affairs after a report revealed that one in four female employees are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
A bipartisan group of members from the Congress and Senate expressed their feelings on the matter through written correspondence to Robert Wilkie, the secretary of Veterans’ Affairs. The lawmakers informed Wilkie that his department must take the approach that addressing their problems with sexual harassment is a top priority.
The letter was signed by lawmakers on the same day a report from the Government Accountability Office identified several problems that need correction from the department. These problems include training, methods for reporting, and general oversight for events that involve sexual harassment.
Data from a federal survey collected from 2014 to 2016 show that 26 percent of female employees of the department responding to the survey reported some form of sexual harassment. Additionally, 14 percent of male workers at the department say they were the object of unwanted sexual attention.
The numbers are a bit lower for the government as a whole with 21 percent of women and nine percent of men saying they have been sexually harassed while at work.
The VA pushed back against the report with a statement by the department press secretary, Christina Noel. The press secretary says the information used in the report is outdated. Noel also asserts the VA has taken measures to prevent all forms of harassment in the workplace.
Employees who endure workplace sexual harassment often feel powerless and alone. To make matters worse, they live in fear of blocking their own career advancement if they reveal their experiences to a superior or coworker. Individuals who find it necessary to ward off unwanted sexual advances in the workplace may benefit from the direction they can receive from an attorney with experience in these matters.