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Report details sexual harassment by national park workers

Many California residents are awed by the majesty of the Grand Canyon every year, and they may be surprised to learn about a report detailing rampant sexual harassment and abuse among workers at the popular national park. The report was released by the Department of the Interior on Jan. 12, and it follows an investigation that was prompted by a complaint filed in 2014 by several park employees concerning the treatment of female workers over a 15-year period.

The complaint described incidents in which female workers were propositioned by male colleagues or subjected to unwanted physical contact and offensively lewd language. While park authorities are said to have reprimanded about a dozen workers for inappropriate conduct during the period concerned, park workers say that the rules were enforced in an inconsistent manner and unwanted sexual advances often went unpunished. The report cites supervisors overlooking the consumption of alcohol by park workers while on duty as an example of how casually regulations were enforced.

While a National Parks Service representative said that the agency had a zero tolerance policy toward workplace sexual harassment, the contents of the Department of the Interior report are unlikely to come as a complete surprise. Misconduct and drinking among workers at the park has been a problem in the past, and procedural changes introduced in May 2014 restricted alcohol consumption and required workers to attend briefings that outlined the behavior expected of them.

Those who are subjected to inappropriate sexual advances or language in the workplace are sometimes reluctant to come forward, and this can be particularly true when the employers concerned seem to turn a blind eye to this kind of misconduct. However, companies that tolerate or otherwise condone this type of behavior may face severe sanctions, and attorneys could provide assistance workers who have been exposed to hostile work environments.

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