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Forest Service efforts to end sexual harrassment

Many employees in California have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment at work. Such problems have especially plagued the United States Forest Services over the past several decades. However, the federal agency is making efforts to stop workplace harassment and other misconduct.

The newest director of the Forest Service wants to enact a cultural change within the organization. The agency was a target of a class action lawsuit in the 1970s brought by women who claimed that they had been passed over for employment and promotions. In December 2016, a panel addressed widespread complaints within the agency of harassment, discrimination and bullying.

Employees reportedly have low confidence in the agency's ability to effect change to prevent sexual harassment. A Work Environment and Performance Office has been created to ensure a better level of advocacy and support for victims of sexual harassment. Some employees still fear retaliation for reporting sexual harassment and believe that the agency is not doing enough. One employee who reported being assaulted at work commented that she felt that the new office was created primarily so the agency can appear to address the issues without addressing deeper problems in the organization.

An attorney with experience handling sexual harassment cases may be able to help an employee who has been victimized at work. There is a broad range of behaviors that can be considered sexual harassment, including the display of lewd materials, inappropriate jokes, comments on a worker's anatomy and unwanted sexual advances. An attorney may be able to assist a victim with the reporting process, either through their company or with the appropriate federal agency.

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