Ranking Member Kuster: Congress Must Investigate High Rates Of Sexual Harassment At VA
(Washington, DC) – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member Annie Kuster (D-NH) sent the following letter to House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Jack Bergman (R-MI) urging him to immediately schedule an oversight hearing to investigate the high rates of sexual harassment currently taking place at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Merit Systems Protections Board (MSPB) recently found in a survey that 26 percent of female and 14 percent of male VA employees reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace between 2014 and 2016.
“I was disturbed to learn of the high rates of sexual harassment for both men and women employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Kuster. “Our veterans deserve a VA that is functioning effectively and efficiently and employees who are impacted by sexual harassment aren’t able to live up to that mission. Sexual harassment has no place in any workplace and we must get to the bottom of what is taking place at the VA immediately.”
The full text of the letter is available below.
June 7, 2018
The Honorable Jack Bergman
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
Dear Chairman Bergman,
I request an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee oversight hearing on the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) survey finding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had the highest percentage of employees experiencing workplace sexual harassment throughout the federal government. The MSPB survey numbers are staggering: 26 percent of women and 14 percent of men reported experiencing sexual harassment while working at VA between 2014 and 2016. This is outrageous and shameful.
This Committee must conduct a thorough investigation into the causes behind these statistics, determine whether incidents of sexual harassment continue to persist, and hold agency officials accountable for failing to address reports of sexual harassment and creating an environment where employees do not feel comfortable reporting harassment or intervening when harassment is witnessed.
VA employees who experience sexual harassment are not being permitted to serve veterans to the best of their abilities and talents because they feel uncomfortable and unsafe at work. As the agency entrusted with providing health care and benefits to veterans, VA must take immediate and appropriate action to address toxic workplaces from the local level to VA Central Office. An oversight hearing will ensure VA is taking immediate and appropriate action in this case.
Ann McLane Kuster
CC: Phil Roe, M.D., Chairman
Tim Walz, Ranking Member
 U.S. Merit System Protection Board, Update on Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace (2018), available at https://www.mspb.gov/MSPBSEARCH/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=1500639&version=1506232&application=ACROBAT.