LOCAL NEWS

HAFB EEO Director Removed From Position For Improper Handling Of Sexual Harassment, Discrimination Allegations

Dec 23, 2020, 7:20 PM
Hill Air Force Base, Utah (Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)...
Hill Air Force Base, Utah (Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)
(Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The director of Hill Air Force Base’s Equal Opportunity Office (EEO) has been removed from her position “for improperly and unlawfully handling complaints involving sexual harassment and discrimination,” officials with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced Wednesday.

OSC officials said an investigation conducted by the Air Force’s Material Command Office of Inspector General substantiated claims involving sexual harassment and discrimination from three whistleblowers.

“I commend the whistleblowers for bravely coming forward to identify the violations of law, gross mismanagement and abuses of authority at Hill Air Force Base,” said special counsel Henry J. Kerner. “Sexual harassment and discrimination cannot be tolerated on American military bases, and whistleblowers who come forward deserve fair treatment and due process. While this case exposed numerous legal violations and other egregious conduct, I am encouraged that the agency is taking steps to restore the integrity of its EEO process.”

Air Force officials said the director has been reassigned to another office with no involvement in EEO filings.

Officials also “committed to improve annual EEO training, issue new EEO policies involving conflicts of interest, and further investigate the conduct of two attorneys in the Hill AFB Civil Law Division who failed to identify conflicts of interest during the EEO settlement process.”

The announcement came after OSC officials sent letters to President Donald Trump and Congress informing them of the change on Wednesday.

“The investigation substantiated the whistleblowers’ allegations, finding that the EEO director had: actively discouraged employees from filing EEO complaints, including telling one whistleblower that her (later substantiated) sexual harassment claims against her supervisor ‘wouldn’t carry weight’ and ‘wouldn’t go anywhere’ when the whistleblower tried to file a complaint; illegally modified and rejected EEO complaints and allegations; given employees false and misleading information about the EEO process, including illegally denying a whistleblower the ability to remain anonymous at the informal stage of the EEO process and telling a filer that she was not entitled to file a claim when the filer was, in fact, entitled to do so; and failed to identify conflicts of interest by management during the EEO mediation process, including allowing a senior official accused of wrongdoing in a whistleblower’s EEO filing to serve as the sole settlement authority for the agency during that whistleblower’s EEO mediation.”

A redacted version of the investigation can be seen here.

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HAFB EEO Director Removed From Position For Improper Handling Of Sexual Harassment, Discrimination Allegations