About 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men who work for a large federal agency say they have been sexually harassed on the job. And if they wish to formally accuse their harasser and pursue some sort of consequences, they must make their claim quickly and then settle in for a long, difficult adjudication process that will likely stretch on for several years.
In one case highlighted by The Washington Post, a Justice Department attorney named Christy McCormick spent seven years securing a recommendation from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for her harassment complaint against two male supervisors. The EEOC found in her favor, but nine years after the harassment happened, she has yet to receive back pay or damages. "I almost gave up numerous times," she said of the process. "They push you so hard to give up."
After experiencing harassment, federal workers must file a claim within 45 days (private sector employees often have up to 300 days). Then they must go through an EEOC probe, which takes 1,300 days (just over three and a half years) on average, a delay that also has serious negative consequences for the falsely accused. When the EEOC does reach a conclusion, it "can only recommend that a harasser be disciplined or fired," the Post reports. "It cannot order action, and agencies are not required to report whether they took any."
Read the full Washington Post report here.