The superintendent of California's Yosemite National Park has become a casualty of a federal investigation into widespread charges of mismanagement and misconduct within the National Park Service. A regional spokesperson for the park service says that they removed the 63-year-old man, who has been in his position for six years "to preserve the integrity of ... Yosemite National Park."
Under Superintendent, Yosemite Described as a "Hostile Work Environment"
While the investigation involves national parks throughout the country, the number of complaints involving Yosemite has made that park a focus of legislators. In a Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing last month, the committee's chairman said that all but one of the 21 employees interviewed by federal investigators "described Yosemite as a hostile work environment as a result of the behavior and conduct of the park's superintendent."
The superintendent has been lauded for the work that he did during his tenure to protect and restore areas of the iconic park amid pressure to add more hotels and campgrounds. However, he and the park as a whole have been dogged by allegations of harassment, intimidation and bullying of park employees.
According to Testimony, Most Victims Were Women
One woman, who heads the park's Fire and Aviation Management division, testified before the congressional committee about multiple incidents of sexual harassment and gender bias throughout her 30-plus year career. However, she said the people to whom she reported them "minimiz[ed] my experience and attempt[ed] to resolve the situation with a mere apology from the perpetrator instead of imposing more appropriate disciplinary action." She said that even though she knew she was risking her career, she wanted to testify because "dozens of people, the majority of whom are women, are being bullied, belittled, disenfranchised and marginalized."
The Yosemite superintendent's resignation is effective Nov. 1. The National Park Service official who announced it noted that "there are not yet any findings or conclusions relating to the allegations."
Too often, workplaces have a culture where harassment and abuse are condoned, if not participated in, by those at the highest levels. When that's the case, employees often feel that they have no support and, in fact, risk losing their jobs if they report abuse or stand by those who do. When these cases can't be successfully resolved in the workplace, it's important to know what your legal options are to protect yourself and your job.
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