Accountability and Change: Addressing Workplace Issues in the Federal Government

white house

What a world, seeing people held accountable for hate speech, sexism, and racist remarks.

What a world, I say!!! When people stand up and say, “I’m not taking it anymore” whipping out their cell phones and exposing these degenerates. Oh, how we cheer these heroes shouting “you go!!” and heckle and jeer at the offenders that lose their jobs and watch them cower in the streets as people recognize them from viral social media posts that expose their true nature.

In a world where individuals are increasingly held accountable for hate speech, sexism, and racist remarks, it’s disheartening to see that the same level of accountability is not always present in the federal government. While the private sector has made strides in addressing these issues, federal employees often find themselves navigating a system that falls short in protecting their rights and fostering a healthy work environment. Let’s delve into the challenges faced by federal employees and explore potential avenues for improvement.

The Reporting Process and Its Limitations:

Federal employees are often subjected to diversity seminars and training sessions where they are assured of a zero-tolerance policy toward unacceptable behavior. However, the effectiveness of these efforts is questionable when the very individuals responsible for the training may continue to perpetuate the problem. This raises the question: How many federal employees have spoken up about bullying, sexist behavior, and daily humiliation within the government? The answer is, unfortunately, not many.

The reporting process for federal employees is a lengthy and arduous one, requiring them to pursue internal channels within their agencies. This process can span months and often results in a right to appeal for the accused party. Consequently, individuals who have been accused of misconduct may simply be moved to a different section, sometimes even working alongside the offended party. This lack of tangible consequences can lead to a climate of fear, where speaking up is perceived as career suicide, and retaliation becomes a genuine concern.

The Role of the EEOC:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) plays a predominantly advisory role for federal departments, further limiting the avenues available to federal employees facing workplace issues. Instead of allowing employees to bring their cases directly to the EEOC, the emphasis is placed on internal mediation and corrective actions determined by management. This approach can discourage reporting and hinder the potential for impartial resolution. In fact, data from the 2007 National Government Ethics Survey indicates that only 2 percent of federal government employees utilized whistleblower hotlines to report misconduct.

Navigating Whistleblower Protections: While whistleblower protections for federal employees exist, they can be stringent and may not cover all forms of wrongdoing. To qualify for protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act, individuals must disclose violations of laws, rules, or regulations, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or substantial and specific dangers to public health or safety. Determining whether incidents of racism and sexism fall within these categories can be confusing and burdensome.

How many federal employees have stood up and spoken about bullying, sexist behavior, and the daily humiliation within the government? Not many, because the reporting process and statutory protections for employees must come from Congress and if the offended party wants to move forward with action, a very lengthy process and investigation much occur that could last in many cases for months. This means that a person who has been accused of sexual or racist misconduct has the right to appeal. In that, they will just be (maybe) moved to a different section, but in many cases still allowed to work with or the same area as the offended party, and for the “whistleblower” this could be career suicide. Deemed not a team player, unable to comply, and can result in being ostracized, and in fear of retaliation.

A Call for Change:

Although progress has been made within the Federal Government, it remains slow-moving. It is imperative for federal employees to utilize the resources available to them, no matter how cumbersome, and for federal organizations to unite against bullying and bad behavior. However, achieving a complete overhaul of the system requires collective action from the President, Congress, and agency leaders. Only through their commitment can the necessary changes be implemented, from establishing a culture of accountability to nominating leaders who prioritize diversity and inclusivity within the ranks of the civil service.

 The current state of accountability for hate speech, sexism, and racist remarks within the federal government falls short of the standards we see in the private sector. Federal employees face challenges when reporting incidents, and the EEOC’s advisory role limits its impact. Whistleblower protections, though present, may not cover all forms of wrongdoing. However, by speaking up, utilizing available resources, and demanding change, federal employees can contribute to a healthier and more inclusive work environment. Ultimately, it is the joint effort of policymakers, agency leaders, and employees that will bring about the necessary transformations for a truly equitable and respectful federal government.