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Forest Service accused of sexual harassment and abuse

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is being held accountable by members of the U.S. Congress over years of sexual harassment complaints. One of the central parts of the congressional investigation was an extremely disturbing and tearful testimony brought forward by a wildland firefighter.

The female firefighter from California's Eldorado National Forest told the story of a male supervisor her who fondled her breasts with a letter opener while smiling like he knew he was going to get away with the act. The woman said that all she could do was stand there in shock after the incident.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were especially shocked when they discovered that the woman's harasser was permitted to retire from his position with no punishment and later came back to the department as a motivational speaker.

Unfortunately, the woman's story is not the only one of this type to be shared during the hearing. Numerous employees of the Department of Agriculture told the committee about their experiences with sexual discrimination, harassment and even sexual assault. Some women had been raped by their coworkers but were afraid to testify because they had been threatened that their careers would be destroyed in retaliation.

Instances of sexual assault and harassment on the job like those described above are unconscionable, illegal and horrifying. No one in California or anywhere else in the world should ever have to experience such abuse. Those who are being sexually harassed, sexually discriminated against or sexually abused on the job, have every power to make it stop right now, and they will never have to experience it again. The law is on your side, and those who have suffered this abuse can file legal claims to protect themselves and seek financial compensation for the abuse they have endured.

Source: The Washington Post, "Forest Service slammed over sexual-harassment and civil rights complaints," Joe Davidson, Dec. 02, 2016

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