​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​FEMA Must Take Additional Steps to Better Address Employee Allegations of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

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FEMA Must Take Additional Steps to Better Address Employee Allegations of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not always appropriately report and investigate employee allegations of sexual harassment and workplace sexual misconduct. For FYs 2012 to 2018, we identified 305 allegations from FEMA employees potentially related to sexual harassment and sexual misconduct such as sexual assault, unwelcome sexual advances, and inappropriate sexual comments. However, we were unable to determine whether FEMA properly handled 153 of these allegations, because it could not provide complete investigative and disciplinary files. For allegations that had complete files available, at times we were unable to determine whether FEMA conducted an investigation. Finally, we found FEMA did not document whether it reviewed some sexual harassment-related Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints to determine whether potential employee misconduct occurred. We attributed the inconsistent investigations and incomplete files to inadequate policies, processes, and training.

One-third (255 of 765) of the employees who responded to our questionnaire indicated they had experienced sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, but they did not report it because they did not believe the allegations would be investigated. Unaddressed sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace can have negative effects on employees, including decreased performance, low morale, and increased turnover.

Read Report No. OIG-21-71

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