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Woman honored for reporting harassment at Coast Guard Academy

New York employees who report discrimination and harassment in the workplace are not supposed to face retaliation afterwards. Furthermore, employers have an obligation to pursue these complaints in a fair manner. However, this does not always happen even in organizations like the Coast Guard.

A 35-year-old woman was recognized on July 30 as part of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day at the National Whistleblowers Center for her efforts to draw attention to bullying at the Coast Guard Academy. She says that over her four years there, she worked her way up the chain of command to the civil rights reporting process for the Department of Homeland Security about the harassment and discrimination that she faced as a member of the teaching staff starting in 2014.

Over the years, her multiple complaints alleged that her boss engaged in discrimination based partly on sexual orientation, gender and race. Her claims were found to be unsubtantiated although one investigator did conclude that there was a pervasive pattern of harassment. Afterward, she received a poor evaluation performance report. Another academy member later reported bullying and harassment from the same department head. The department head was removed in 2018. The Coast Guard public affairs chief said they apologized several times, but the woman says she never received a written apology from the organization.

People are supposed to be protected in the workplace based on membership in several other classes as well, including religion and national origin. An attorney may be able to advise employees regarding their rights and how to respond if employment discrimination or harassment is occurring. As this case demonstrates, even organizations that have clear procedures for reporting and investigating harassment do not always address these issues adequately. If this happens, the employee may want to file a legal claim.

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