DOJ Releases New Sexual Harassment Guidelines

In response to a 48-page report issued last year by Michael E. Horowitz (general inspector for the Department of Justice) that detailed harassment, assault, and sexual misconduct, the DOJ has issued directives to address sexual harassment earlier this month.

Written by the deputy Attorneys general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and two other officials in his office, the directives aim to ensure that the DOJ impose “serious and consistent” penalties to those found guilty of sexual harassment.

Additionally, each section in the department will be held responsible for how it handles harassment and misconduct accusations, punish those who are guilty, and protect accusers when their cases are being investigated. According to the new policies, verified sexual harassment cases should lead to “a penalty ranging from a 15-day suspension to removal.”

Each section is required to track each complaint by doing the following:

  • Specify the nature of the claim, such as any aggravating factors
  • Note whether and when it was reported to the inspector general and/or security
  • List the disciplinary action taken

However, critics argue that the new rules could be unevenly applied throughout the department, resulting in some employees being left unprotected. Each unit is in charge of deciding how best to enforce these new directives.

For example, one unit in the department could launch an immediate investigation after a sexual harassment complaint, while another unit could wait 30 days after a complaint is filed before conducting an investigation. Critics say there must be universal guidelines and zero-tolerance policies to properly address workplace misconduct.

If you work for the DOJ, these policies affect you. Do believe victims will be protected enough? Who may face retaliation for such complaints?

For more information, contact our federal employment team in DC at John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law today.