An inspector general investigation has found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promoted an employee to be the Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security, despite the fact that senior officials knew about multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. The inspector general’s office said that the man, Peter Jutro, engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct with at least 16 women from 2004 to 2014. He not only made sexually suggestive comments towards the women, but also engaged in unwanted behavior such as hugging, kissing, touching, and photographing them.
The EPA became aware of allegations of sexual harassment against Jutro prior to January 2014, but did not reprimand or discipline him. Instead, they promoted him to be the Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office Homeland Security office, where he continued working from February to August 2014.
According to the inspector general, the EPA’s failure to take action after the allegations surfaced allowed Jutro to sexually harass at least six additional women. The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, condemned the EPA’s actions. “By turning a blind eye, EPA management allowed at least six more women to be harassed by Mr. Jutro,” Chaffetz said.
In addition to promoting Jutro, the EPA neglected to fire three employees who admitted to spending hours at work every day watching pornography. Instead, it placed them on paid administrative leave for almost a year.
Is pornography in the workplace considered sexual harassment?
The mere presence of pornography at work can cause employees to feel distressed and uncomfortable. But can it be considered grounds for a sexual harassment claim? In Patane v. Clark, the court found that “[…] the mere presence of pornography in the workplace can alter the “status” of women therein and is relevant to assessing the objective hostility of the environment.” Pornography in the workplace can create a hostile work environment, even if you never directly viewed the pornography. These are inappropriate acts, against which all Employers must take action.
Employers cannot ignore allegations of sexual harassment
If you are subjected to sexual harassment at work, report it to a supervisor or your human resources department as soon as possible. Once your employer is aware of your allegations, it must conduct a swift and impartial investigation, and take appropriate disciplinary actions. In any event, regardless of the action taken by your employer, if you suffered an injury or an adverse employment action, you have a right to recover for your loss. To find out if you have a claim and/or to explore your options, contact the Akin Law Group as soon as possible.
The lawyers at Akin Law Group are committed to fighting workplace sexual harassment
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, or have otherwise faced discrimination or retaliation at work, call the Akin Law Group at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced employment lawyer.