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Rep. Maloney Demands Reinstatement of USFS Employee Fired in Retribution for Reporting Sexual Assault

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Submitted by Lawrence Lucas

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PRESS RELEASE:

Rep. Maloney Demands Reinstatement of USFS Employee Fired in Retribution for Reporting Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON, DC – Following yesterday’s hearing in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with United States Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, Rep. Maloney requested a written response from Chief Christiansen on how the USFS will change and make better its system for handling workplace sexual assault and harassment.

In her letter, the Congresswoman points out that Shannon Reed was fired in retaliation to lodging a complaint of sexual harassment. The Congresswoman therefore requested in her letter to Chief Christiansen that “as you work to correct these problems at the US Forest Service, I strongly urge you to consider restoring Ms. Reed’s employment, if that is what she desires. It was made clear at the hearing today that Ms. Reed was forced out of her position unjustly and prematurely. Furthermore, having been a victim of both sexual harassment and the dysfunctional process after the fact, Ms. Reed is in a unique position to prevent other women from suffering the same abuse to which she was subjected.”

Full text of the letter is below and a PDF can be found here.

Dear Chief Christiansen,

Thank you for your testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today about the systemic mistreatment of women at the U.S. Forest Service. As this hearing made clear, for many women, the US Forest Service has not been a safe place to work. Women have been sexually assaulted by their coworkers or superiors, and then retaliated against for reporting the assault. That is intolerable, and even more so because that it is happening at a federal agency. It is incumbent upon you to rectify this situation as quickly as possible.

At the hearing, you committed to providing me a written response when asked for your thoughts about the concerns raised by Ms. Reed and more than 50 other women in a letter to you dated Nov 9, 2018. A copy of that letter is enclosed. The letter details horrific allegations of harassment, retaliation and injustice at the US Forest Service and I am eager to see your response to it.

Additionally, as you work to correct these problems at the US Forest Service, I strongly urge you to consider restoring Ms. Reed’s employment, if that is what she desires. It was made clear at the hearing today that Ms. Reed was forced out of her position unjustly and prematurely. Furthermore, having been a victim of both sexual harassment and the dysfunctional process after the fact, Ms. Reed is in a unique position to prevent other women from suffering the same abuse to which she was subjected.

Your prompt attention to this matter is appreciated. Thank you.

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Forestry Service Misconduct and Retaliation information

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Submitted by Lawrence Lucas

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There will be an oversight hearing Thur. Nov. 15th 10:00 am Eastern regarding misconduct in the Forestry Service. I would encourage you to share this and watch the hearing either live or archived via this link.

https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/examining-misconduct-and-retaliation-at-the-u-s-forest-service/

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy has asked the Department of Agriculture for extensive documents related to sexual harassment and misconduct at the Forest Service, citing persistent reports of such conduct and retaliation against employees who report it.

In an Oct. 22 letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, Gowdy (R-S.C.) requested all communications regarding anti-harassment policies sent or received by top officials overseeing the Forest Service and all regional foresters since Dec. 2, 2016.

He also asked for information including the number of employees disciplined or terminated in relation to anti-harassment policies since that date, as well as an accounting of penalties imposed. And he asked for all personnel actions associated with employees who filed complaints or reported sexual misconduct or harassment since Jan. 1, 2016.

Gowdy asked the department to comply by Nov. 5. As of this morning, the committee hadn’t received a response, a spokeswoman said.

His letter comes on the heels of several Forest Service initiatives to combat a history of sexual misconduct and harassment in the agency, particularly in firefighting crews. Christiansen took over earlier this year after Tony Tooke resigned as Forest Service chief, following backlash over his own past conduct — a relationship he had a decade earlier with a lower-ranking Forest Service employee when he was a regional forester.

Addressing sexual misconduct is a top priority, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment James Hubbard has said. He oversees the Forest Service (E&E Daily, July 25). More

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