Official at Agency that Enforces Workplace Discrimination Sexually Harassed Employees
SEPTEMBER 14, 2018
In a curious twist, the federal agency responsible for enforcing the nation’s workplace discrimination laws is quietly investigating one of its own high-ranking officials for sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has opened a probe into a regional supervisor accused by various subordinates of exchanging sex for favorable treatment at work. The female supervisor in the Miami, Florida district office proposed sex to male employees, according to a publication dedicated to covering the government. “Those who rebuffed her advances, according to multiple individuals in the office, were subject to increased workloads, given the most complex cases to investigate, and tasked with running her personal errands,” the news report states.
The publication identifies the offending supervisor as Katherine Gonzalez and reveals that the EEOC launched the investigation in 2017, though the agency is trying to keep it quiet. Employee affidavits were reviewed by reporters who interviewed victims of the supervisor’s illegal behavior. Citing “privacy concerns,” the government is refusing to confirm or deny the investigation and Gonzalez did not respond to multiple requests for comment. One EEOC employee interviewed in the story says Gonzalez pressured him into having sex almost immediately after getting hired. “Gonzalez, who was his supervisor, pushed her breasts against him multiple times in his first week, he said, and things escalated from there,” the article states. “She began asking for favors, food and gifts. She demanded the employee, who was married, bring her flowers on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. All of the requests came with an implication that she would ruin his work life if he did not comply, he said.”
Claiming that he feared for his job and felt threatened, the employee said he caved in and engaged in sexual intercourse with his boss. “The intimate relationship continued, and the employee said he believed it was the only metric upon which his work performance was evaluated,” the article states. Ironically, the employee’s job at the agency focused on investigating allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. Complaints about Gonzalez were filed as early as 2015 and several managers in the EEOC enforcement division knew about the Miami supervisor’s relationships with at least five of her subordinates yet no one took any action. When the case blew open within the division the director proclaimed that “everyone is to blame for this.”
While its own house is in disarray, the EEOC is known for overreaching and aggressively hounding private businesses and government agencies over questionable cases of discrimination. Under the Obama administration the EEOC shattered records in its mission to eradicate workplace discrimination, mainly by filing high-profile cases that earned large settlements for “vulnerable groups” such as immigrant and migrant workers. American businesses that didn’t accommodate Muslims were especially targeted and that didn’t necessarily change when Donald Trump moved into the White House. In fact, earlier this year Judicial Watch reported that the Trump EEOC sued a security company for refusing to modify its grooming standards for a Muslim employee. The firm was accused of religious discrimination because the Muslim employee requested the grooming exemption in accordance with his “sincerely held religious beliefs.” The security firm eventually settled with the government, the security guard got $90,000 in damages and the company had to hire an equal employment monitor and revise its religious accommodation policies.
Under Trump, the EEOC also sued a grocery chain for religious discrimination over the dreadlocks of a Rastafarian. Followers of the “Afrocentric” religion wear long, matted and knotted hair and smoke marijuana (“the spiritual use of cannabis”). There is no formal, organized leadership in Rastafarianism which makes it difficult to accept as an official religion protected by federal law. It was born in the slums of Jamaica and followers must have dreadlocks, long clumps of ungroomed hair symbolizing the mane of the Lion of Judah. Rastafarians believe Haile Selassie, the former emperor of Ethiopia, is God and that he’ll help blacks living in exile as a result of the slave trade return to Africa. Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley, who died in Miami in 1981, was among the best known Rastafarians and more recently a famous rapper known as Snoop Dogg became Rastafari and changed his name to Snoop Lion, according to a mainstream news report. “A key belief for Rastas is the notion of death to all white and black oppressors,” the story says, adding that “the most common outward expressions of Rastafari are Rastas’ dreadlocks, penchant for smoking marijuana and vegetarian diets.”
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