A man is stepping down after seven years as the head of a national park in California after allegations that he allowed a toxic and hostile workplace. The man reportedly resigned amid a Congressional investigation into the allegations, which come from at least 18 employees or former employees of the park.
The park in question is Yosemite National Park, but it is not the only location where such allegations have been leveled. Reports are that allegations have come from employees throughout the national park system, including from staffers at sites such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
The man in question issued a written apology to staff citing what he called serious staff concerns. According to staff complaints, the man was allowing a variety of hostile work activity in the park, including sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. A spokesperson for the park would not state exactly what led to the man’s decision to step down from his position.
While the details of this case are still unfolding and investigations continue to look into reported behavior throughout the national park system, it’s telling that the man stepped down. While we can’t conclude that the man was, himself, doing anything illegal just because he stepped down, his actions and the situation that currently exists are a good illustration of the legal and career implications of sexual and other harassment in the workplace.
Even if you are not personally involved in such harassment, if you are in a supervisory position, you might be held accountable. Knowing about harassment and not taking any action to stop it can make you culpable in certain ways. If you are being harassed — or believe someone else is harassing someone under your watch — it’s always a good idea to seek a legal opinion about your options.
Source: New York Post, “Yosemite chief retires amid sex harassment allegations,” Sep. 29, 2016