FEMA personnel officer accused of sexual harassment

Residents of Tennessee might associate the Federal Emergency Management Agency with disaster areas, but new allegations point to a disastrous work environment. Complaints against a former FEMA personnel officer who occupied a high position within the human resources department reveal a workplace where he doled out jobs to women who granted him sexual favors.

The man ran the personnel department from 2011 until June 2018. Complaints against him detail claims that he hired college friends and women that he met through online dating sites. Some accusations said that he transferred women into departments where his friends worked under the expectation that they would have sex with his friends.

The preliminary findings from the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General uncovered evidence that the personnel officer had relationships with two women in subordinate job positions starting in 2015. At separate times, they accompanied him on work trips even though they had no official role to play. One woman reported that the man withheld a promotion and then tried to fire her after she ended their relationship. The second woman told investigators that the personnel officer tempted her to continue working at FEMA by forming a new position for her despite her lack of qualifications.

A person who suspects that conduct at a workplace has crossed legal lines could consult an attorney. After evaluating allegations such as unwanted sexual advances, demotion after refusing a relationship or lewd comments, an attorney could suggest how to pursue damages related to sexual harassment. Initially, an attorney might inform the employer about the problem. If an employer has already failed to take a complaint seriously, then an attorney might pursue a settlement by working with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or filing a lawsuit.

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