Who is Keeping Track of Bullying, Sexual Harassment, and Hostile Work Environments?

Debby Szeredy

March 15, 2023

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The USPS has never put forth its best effort to protect postal workers from hostile work environments. Employees often experience management failures to resolve cases. They watch management harassers move from one postal facility to another and these cases are often closed as inconclusive. Now an Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report entitled “U.S. Postal Service’s Response to Sexual Harassment Complaints,” shows that training, tracking, and documenting cases have been found to be inconsistent, incomplete, and inadequate.

The report makes it clear to me that the USPS Workforce Environment Tracking System (WETS) can’t work without training, and is unreliable with its failed tracking, incomplete resolutions, or an inability to identify a case from any of the three systems that we know about.

The report sets out three formal ways to report harassment: through Human Resources (a complaint to management); through Labor Relations (reporting to the union and filing a grievance); or via the Equal Employment Opportunity procedures, which are filed through the USPS, but include a right to appeal to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The OIG Audit Report #21-173-R23 dated Jan. 9, 2023 specifically reviewed sexual harassment complaints to assess policies, procedures, quality of the data, and identified trends in the data for closed cases, during Fiscal Years 2019 and 2021. They reported 691 closed and 24 open complaints. From May 2021 through December 2021, there was no access to the tracking system.

Studies have found that approximately 70 percent of individuals do not report sexual harassment due to pressures and reprisal. The OIG report shows management failed to perform due diligence in investigating, documenting, monitoring, and taking immediate corrective action.

The OIG recommended that the USPS conduct periodic Climate Assessment Surveys as a best practice for understanding the prevalence of sexual harassment. The information gathered from these surveys could help the USPS identify specific facilities that need training, prevention programs, and intervention.

Prevention training programs are not provided regularly to all employees/management. Even new employee orientation training has been slashed over the years to a one-day event.

Management told the OIG that they are not interested in doing an environment climate survey. Is management fearful that the surveys would show an even bigger problem escalating due to harassers continuously getting away with sexual harassment and with a failed antiharassment program?

The OIG found that 97 percent of managers that conduct the Initial Management Inquiry Process (IMIP) never completed the required training to complete and record harassment data into WETS.

The APWU’s Work Environment Improvement Task Force has requested to review the WETS files since last year, trying to review the hot spot locations, violations, specific repetitive manager violations, and how cases are resolved and continue to be monitored. We still have not been provided the information.

In a letter to the OIG dated April 29, 2022, The USPS states that “The Postal Service has no doubt that WETS maintains the most accurate data for the four workplace environment processes.” Management does not even include the EEO cases filed when they procedurally dismiss them. If USPS says they have four workplace environment processes, OIG claims there are three. Is the fourth process for “Management Only?” APWU will dig deeper. Remember union members can stand and support each other when witnessing hostile work environments. Finally, don't forget to celebrate Women's History Month throughout March. ■

APWU Members Work Together in Solidarity

Report sexual harassment, bullying and hostile work environment.

Don’t let management get away with hiding the truth and ruining lives!


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