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Sexual Harassment on the Colorado River

Sexual Harassment on the Colorado River
January 12
13:53 2016

The Colorado River offers breathtaking sights and sounds for those adventurous enough to take a tour.  Everything may not be sunshine and rainbows however, as a newly released report from the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General details a history of sexual harassment on the river by Grand Canyon employees from 2003 to 2014.

Park officials commented on the claims of misconduct stating that various steps had been taken in each situation and the consequences varied from simple reprimands to terminations.

According to a human resources official, the workers had a secretive attitude about behavior on the river.

“What happens on the river stays on the river,” he said.

Some of the incidents in question included a boatman who took an upskirt photograph of an employee, a supervisor who touched the crotch of a contract employee, and some employees who were caught twerking during a dance party.

While the park service had terminated some employees for their actions, they also allowed them to work elsewhere within the agency.

According to Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall, one such incident happened where an employee that had resigned after being disciplined for repeated sexual harassment and misconduct was permitted to volunteer on a river trip in 2010.

Apart from that snafu, it was also revealed that the NPS failed to properly conceal the identities of the victims involved in particular cases.  In 2014, a letter was released to multiple people who were subjects of a complaint.

According to Kendall, “NPS must respect the confidentiality of individuals who report sexual harassment by not revealing their identities to others who do not have a legitimate, work-related need to know.”

Investigators believe there are many more incidents haven’t been properly handled by supervisors or that haven’t been reported.

The Office of Inspector General said it had not conducted any similar investigations at other national parks.

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