AFGE is demanding accountability on behalf of three African-American employees at the National Science Foundation’s Office of Integrative Activities who were retaliated against after reporting their manager for harassing coworkers based on their sexual orientation.
In August, the agency’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion hired an outside investigator to review claims made by AFGE Local 3403, on behalf of several members, that their supervisor had engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment against certain office employees based on their perceived sexual orientation and had engaged in other misconduct, including bullying, intimidating, and making inappropriate comments toward employees during the investigation.
On Sept. 26, the agency informed AFGE that the investigator had substantiated the employees’ claims and that the case was being referred to human resources to determine any appropriate disciplinary measures or other remedial actions.
On Oct. 1, three of the employees who had helped launch the investigation discovered that someone had smeared clear oil in the shape of crosses over the name plates on their office cubicles. They are among the few African-American employees in the office.
“This is a clear case of retaliation and intimidation against employees who blew the whistle on their manager for harassing coworkers based on their sexual orientation,” AFGE Local 3403 President David Verardo said. “The agency needs to take immediate action to protect these employees from further retaliation and to hold accountable those responsible for these despicable acts.”
As of Oct. 7, the targeted employees are still being required to report to work alongside the manager who was at the heart of the discrimination claim.
“The situation is tense at the agency for these employees and their coworkers, and my main concern is for the well-being of employees and their ability to carry out the agency mission,” Verardo said.