The United States Forest Service has adamantly denied a problem with sexual harassment among its ranks for years and years. Now thanks to some interesting investigative skills by The Daily Caller, they’re getting called out.
Lenise Lago, a 27-year veteran of the USFS even said “Throughout my career in the Forest Service, I’ve also experienced the dedication and commitment of our employees at all levels to work together for a working environment that’s free of harassment where all employees can thrive.”
Well… hold on just a second there, Lago…
The Daily Caller first exposed widespread sexual harassment at the USFS in February 2014, and since the issue was covered by the New York Times, Sharyl Attkisson and the Huffington Post, along with a 2016 hearing in the House Oversight Committee.
Current and former female USFS firefighters paint a frightening work environment.
Whitmer said she worked as a firefighter in the Bureau of Land Management, before moving to a hotshot crew at the National Park Service and then the USFS, experiencing harassment at all three.
“During work hours, while in travel status in hotels, and in many cases during after-hours partying on government compounds I felt harassed and pressured to have sexual relations with supervisors,” Whitmer said of the harassment at USFS. “To survive as a female, I knew early on I would be expected to accept the culture or leave. For years I did try to just do my job and ignore the negative aspects of the culture.”
Reed said she worked at the National Park Service where she experienced sexual harassment often from other women.
She moved to the Forest Service to escape that harassment, only to experience more sexual harassment, this time from men.
“In the Grand Canyon, my supervisor threw things at me when she got upset,” Reed told TheDC. “I also witnessed a rape.”
Raines told TheDC she was sexually harassed by a superior, John Forster, when she worked at the Cleveland National Forest, which is in Region 5 of the USFS.
She said Forster harassed her for approximately two-and-a-half years, including calling her at all hours and making sure they sat together when they flew to conferences.
At the hotel, Raines said, “he’d always hand me a hotel key. I can come in day and night.”
After two-and-a-half years, Forster started going through a divorce and the harassment stopped only to have five years of retaliation.
Donnelly said she experienced harassment with the USFS when she worked there in the 1990s; she participated in The Daily Caller’s 2014 story.
She said the harassment has continued unabated at the USFS for decades.
Just in the last five years, she’s helped approximately 20 women file an EEO sexual harassment complaint and has heard hundreds of stories of people who are still too afraid to file formal action, including five alleged rape victims too afraid to come forward.
Rice testified with Donnelly at the House Oversight Committee in 2016 and participated in The Daily Caller’s 2014 story.
Rice said she was harassed by her superior, Mike Beckett, who also stripped her of management duties in retaliation after his advances were rejected.
While Beckett was finally terminated, he was rehired as part of a contracting crew before being banished for good after she and Donnelly complained.