The National Park Service (NPS) promised Thursday to institute a series of reforms to keep Grand Canyon employees from preying upon female colleagues.
The commitment to clear out the muck and mire within its ranks was prompted by a federal report finding that NPS employees were harassing their female counterparts and retaliating against them for rebuking their sexual advances.
Sue Masica, a regional director at the agency’s intermountain region, said the NPS plans on putting a zero tolerance policy in place for employees who engage in sexual deviancy, adding she plans on disciplining those who engage in sexual harassment.
“While dismayed at the work environment described in the report, I am committed to working to change the situation and keep similar situations from happening again,” she wrote in a statement responding to the report. “The employees of Grand Canyon National Park deserve nothing less than that.”
The report came after 13 current and NPS employees at the Grand Canyon, fed up with their male colleagues bawdy behavior, filed a complaint in 2014 alleging women had been abused over the course of 15 years. The complaint prompted an investigation by the Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General.
Masica also vowed to have an independent reviewer weed through a 2013 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity office looking into similar sexual harassment complaints to find instances of harassment.
She also said the NPS would create an ombudsman position to help train male employees not to harass female colleagues, as well as apologize to those who filed the 2014 complaint.
Former Grand Canyon River District Ranger Michelle Kearney, who signed on to the 2014 complaint, praised the reforms, calling them a healthy start.
“The system failed. We tried every avenue, and it failed,” she said. “It needs to be reviewed. Those people in those positions need to have special training.”
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