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Forest Service to address employee harassment

The newly-appointed director of the national forest service has promised to focus on reducing workplace sexual harassment and other issues at the agency. The director said that she would make changes to existing programs and put new systems in place to promote the safety and comfort of employees. New Jersey workers might gain from an understanding of the claims and facts alleged in the case.

The Associated Press has reported that the U.S. Forest Service has had problems with workplace sexual harassment in the past. Female employees brought a class action lawsuit against the agency in the 1970s, alleging discrimination regarding promotions and employment opportunities. An oversight panel called a hearing in December 2016 to address claims by employees of bullying, harassment and systemic discrimination. Following a report by the USDA Office of the Inspector General, the Forest Service said in March 2018 that it would take steps to better address employee complaints.

The Forest Service director worked for decades as a wildfire fighter and forester before she became the chief of the agency. She said her background only adds to her commitment and that she knows what it means to run into discrimination or harassment as an employee. Her Forest Service has established a Work Environment and Performance Office designed to facilitate victim advocacy and create a reliable support system for employees.

When harassment occurs in the workplace, the employee involved may not know his or her rights. The victim might be entitled to monetary compensation or policy changes at work. Legal counsel could help in such a case by identifying parties who may have liability for the behavior or by drafting and filing a complaint for recovery in civil court. An attorney with experience handling workplace discrimination cases might put together a case for trial or negotiate a settlement with at-fault parties.

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