Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke revealed today he has fired four senior managers at the Interior Department for inappropriate conduct, including sexual harassment.
“I’ve already removed four senior leaders that were guilty of inappropriate behavior and I will remove four hundred more if necessary. Intimidation, harassment and discrimination is a cancer to any organization. However deep it goes, we will remove it from Interior,” Zinke said in a video posted on the agency’s website today.
Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said in an email the department could not provide any specific information on the people who were fired but said they generally “abused their authority to intimidate or harass fellow employees. This includes but is not limited to sexual harassment.”
She also said the park superintendent at Yellowstone National Park has taken disciplinary action against a number of employees for instances of harassment. A report from the agency’s inspector general published in March found a negative work environment for women in the park that included inappropriate comments and actions toward women employees.
The department released the results of a workplace survey Thursday where 35 percent of employees said they were harassed in the last year, with 8 percent saying they were sexually harassed. More than 200 employees who responded to that survey also reported experiencing sexual assault. About 28,300 employees responded to the survey which is 44 percent of the agency’s workforce, according to the release.
The inspector general’s office said they cannot comment on whether there are any active investigations into sexual harassment or assault.
At least one Interior employee accused of harassment has been named in an inspector general report published in February. Tim Lynn was the director of the agency’s law enforcement office and was investigated for his behavior after an employee who worked for him said he was “touchy-feely” and and would sometimes touch her arms or hair and at least once talked about watching porn when they were alone in the office. Lynn denied the allegations but the IG’s office found five other women who said he had acted unprofessionally toward them, including touching, hugging, personal text messages and flirtatious comments. The Washington Post reported that Lynn retired in May.
Interior Deputy Sec. David Bernhardt has ordered office heads to submit an action plan within the next 45 days with specific plans to address the results.
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