The new Interior Secretary for the United States came into office promising to have zero tolerance for any type of workplace harassment within his department. This strong stance could soon be tested as the head of the National Park Service is under fire for making an inappropriate gesture in front of other employees. California residents could know the results of the investigation into the matter by the end of June.
According to anonymous employees, the acting director was walking through the hallways of the department's headquarters telling a story to another employee. At one point during the story, he allegedly stopped and acted as if he was urinating on the building's interior walls. This occurred in view of multiple employees.
The acting director has since issued a written apology to the anonymous employee who made the report and other witnesses. While he admitted the gesture was inappropriate, he said it did not rise to the level of harassment. This incident comes after the recent firings of four other Interior employees for harassment and other inappropriate behavior.
The incident has come in the wake of an NPS internal survey that has identified harassment as a major problem within the agency. Regardless of the acting director's intent, his actions may have had a negative impact on his employees. Inappropriate behavior of any type can create an uncomfortable working environment.
Workers who believe they have been victims of workplace harassment have several options under the law. If necessary, an employee could partner with an attorney and file a suit against the appropriate parties. It's important to note that workers are also generally protected from retaliation for making legitimate complaints.