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Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel told

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Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel told

Postby rlown » Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:52 pm

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Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel told

MATTHEW DALYASSOCIATED PRESS | September 22, 2016, 1:33PM | Updated 2 hours ago.

WASHINGTON — Sexual harassment, bullying and other misconduct is rampant among employees at national parks across the country, including at iconic sites such as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, a congressional committee was told Thursday.

At Yosemite, at least 18 employees have come forward with allegations of harassment or other misconduct so severe that a recent report labeled working conditions at the park "toxic."

At Yellowstone, officials are investigating complaints of sexual exploitation, intimidation and retaliation.

The complaints follow a report by the Interior Department's inspector general that found male employees at the Grand Canyon preyed on female colleagues, demanded sex and retaliated against women who refused.

In a separate case, the park service has temporarily reassigned the superintendent of a Florida park where female employees long complained of sexual harassment and a hostile workplace.

"There seems to be some patterns here that are just not anything we should come close to tolerating," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Michael Reynolds, deputy director of operations for the National Park Service, acknowledged problems at many of the agency's 413 park sites, including the Grand Canyon and other parks visited by millions of people each year.

Problems at the Grand Canyon and the Canaveral National Seashore in Florida "were more than a wake-up call," Reynolds told lawmakers. "They presented us with clear and undeniable evidence that ... we must extend the same commitment to the employees of the National Park Service as we make to the protection of our nation's most extraordinary places."

Asked if he agreed the agency has a problem with harassment and hostile work environments, Reynolds said yes.

Kelly Martin, Yosemite's chief of fire and aviation management, told lawmakers that she has been sexually harassed throughout her 32-year career at the park service and U.S. Forest Service.

Early in her career, a Grand Canyon park ranger stood outside her bathroom window and watched her shower, Martin said. After she reported the incident, he apologized and no further action was taken. The ranger "was repeatedly caught engaging in voyeuristic behavior, all the while receiving promotions around the agency until his recent retirement as a deputy superintendent" at a national park, Martin said.

At Yosemite, dozens of people, mostly women, "are being bullied, belittled, disenfranchised and marginalized from their roles as dedicated professionals," Martin said. She and other employees said Park Superintendent Don Neubacher has "publicly humiliated" workers, intimidated them and questioned their professional credibility.

Yosemite employees described "horrific working conditions (that) lead us to believe that the environment is indeed toxic, hostile, repressive and harassing," the park service said in a preliminary report last month.

Chaffetz and other lawmakers said problems at Yosemite are exacerbated because Neubacher's wife, Patricia Neubacher, is deputy director for the Pacific region, which includes Yosemite.

Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite, declined to comment, referring questions to the agency's Washington headquarters

Spokesman Jeremy Barnum said the park service is implementing "a comprehensive plan to identify and stop harassment, educate our staff at all levels about their rights and responsibilities, and create a safe and respectful work environment for every employee."

The agency has set up a hotline for complaints, improved training and is conducting a survey of employees, Barnum said.

Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis "has made clear to all NPS employees that when incidents of harassment are reported, NPS managers must take the allegations seriously ... and act promptly to ensure the harassment ... does not continue," Barnum said.


Report: Long history of sexual harassment on Grand Canyon rafting trips
If allegations are verified, "disciplinary action will follow," he said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland was dubious, noting that an agency task force reached many of the same conclusions 16 years ago.

"Sixteen years later, allegations have been made at Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks about possible harassment, hostile work environments and even sexual exploitation," Cummings said.


Source: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/61180 ... t-national



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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby SSSdave » Thu Sep 22, 2016 7:01 pm

Thanks rlown for passing on this issue.

Until the early 90s female harassment by males was widespread in the workplaces of American society. About then lawsuits by victims against major corporations gained traction resulting in huge settlements and within a short few years behaviors within corporate America greatly changed. However change was slower within smaller businesses but eventually with the big corps not making missteps, lawyers started going after smaller prey and by this era millennials might wonder if it was ever different. Well just watch the movie "Animal House" to understand the flavor of that era. As a young man I was disgusted seeing many other men in workplaces acting rude and crude with women coworkers and the US military was probably the worst with company sales departments a shade below.

But there has always been fair numbers of men that were never part of organizations where an iron fist came down. Thus it is not surprising low pay workplaces in backwater areas still suffers so. Also one should expect behaviors of young people coming out of high schools and colleges come from much less controlled environments and if not clearly instructed when entering adult workplaces, one can expect poor results.
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby balzaccom » Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:37 am

Dave--as the father of two young professional women, I wish I shared your perception that the 1980s are over and that widespread sexual harassment has ended at large companies. I think it still goes on. I think it is perhaps more discreet than it used to be, but given the stories out of Fox News and the San Francisco Fire Department this last month, it's prevalent in all levels and sectors of our society.

And I agree, younger people today need both positive examples and education to help put this issue to rest. Sadly, they need those examples and education because they have learned exactly the opposite over the course of their path to adulthood.
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:17 am

As a woman, I can assure you that sexual harassment is alive and well in a variety of venues. As it was in the 90s.
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby rlown » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:40 am

I know of 5 marriages that came out of our work area in my company In the 80's. And two lawsuits along the lines of this story.
I got a new cubicle in Roseville this year, and I clean out the crap in the desk (they don't do that for you).. Anyway I find these notes to the guy there before me saying things like "your a very cute boy" with lil' hearts drawn on the post-it notes.. 6 of them. The last one in the cube moved to Ft. Collins. Wondered if he was being harassed. No I didn't call him, but he's in my current org.

pretty sure the issue isn't dead.
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby RoguePhotonic » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:49 am

I just wish there was a better balance. Harassment is unacceptable but work places have shifted to the point where you need to tip toe around each other and make damn sure you don't say anything positive or complimentary to another person or you risk getting sued.

I remember some co-workers telling me about doing a job at a college where they had to have a short class about what can and can't be done there. One of the rules was if you look at a girl for more than 5 seconds your "raping her". I'll remember that next time I stop and look at a Tiger Lilly in the Sierra. Any more than 5 seconds and I'm raping the poor flower.
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Sep 23, 2016 1:18 pm

"Sexual" harassment is more than just related to the act of sex. It has to do with actions or words that make a workplace hostile to women, specifically because they are women. Such as, job reviews that make women perform their assigned tasks twice as good as a man for the same rating, repeatedly giving women the worst job assignments (those with the lowest chance of staying within budget), underlings not respecting a women who is thier boss etc. As recently as 2000, I was supervising a field project, and the workmen would hit the outhouse with a 2x4 when I was inside, and write on the workboard "we start tomorrow at 7AM, ****". The "reason" they did this is that part of my job was to enforce CA environmental laws and when they hid evidence from a state inspector, I pointed out the problem and said we would clean things up as soon as we could. The crew, from Nevada, just said "stupid CA laws". My supervisor just told me that this is how these workers were, and put up with it. I then "quit" that assignnmet and told my supervisor to go out their himself. I am sure this resulted in poor job reviews for me. The interesting thing, is that I worked in a coal mine for seven years in the 1980's and NEVER had this kind of harrassment. So it has to due with the "culture" of certain workplaces, not before or after any enacted harrassment laws.

The Yosemite case appears to be more of this kind of harrassment- not "sexual" in the more commonly thought of "making advances" or unwelcome touching.
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby Vaca Russ » Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:19 pm

rlown wrote: I find these notes to ... me saying things like "your a very cute boy" with lil' hearts drawn on the post-it notes.. 6 of them.


Aw, Cmon, Russ, you know I left those notes there for you!

:nod: :D :lol: :lol:
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby rlown » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:28 pm

winter will come for you, being in Illinois and all :) Besides, the card key systems are horrendous to just get in.
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Re: Sexual harassment common at national parks, House panel

Postby rlown » Thu Sep 29, 2016 2:33 pm

Guess Don Neubacher can take a hint. He's retiring on November 1st, and is on leave immediately. :)

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/61434 ... artslide=0
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