Things are a bit fishy at Washington’s DFW
OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is under fire for perpetuating a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. An investigation into the department conducted by an independent law group found that the department fostered a sexual culture that often left women marginalized and alienated in the workplace. This investigation came after a senior wildlife official was accused of raping and burglarizing one of his subordinates.
Greg Schirato, a former Division leader at the department, had been an influential figure within the agency since 1983, eventually working his way up to deputy assistant director for the Wildlife Division in 2010. Schirato held this position until 2015 when he was fired in response to rape allegations. Schirato was charged with second-degree rape and first-degree burglary after a 2014 incident in which a former subordinate accused Schirato of the heinous crime.
According to the suit, in December 2014, Schirato attended a Christmas Party hosted by the department and later went out on the town for drinks with three co-workers. One of the women who had accompanied Schirato went home afterwards and, according to reports, was “very intoxicated” as she fell asleep. The following morning, the women woke up with her clothes undone and she found signs of a break-in. After the women reported the incident, she says she had intermittent memories of being sexually assaulted while she slept. Schirato, the young women’s supervisor, was charged the following April after DNA evidence linked him to the event.
Schirato’s case sparked an investigation into the Department’s policies and procedures. A San-Francisco based law group handled the investigation. The Law group concluded that DFW’s workplace is highly sexualized and filled with unprofessional banter. The investigation forced the DFW to reflect on its general policies and procedures. Leaders of at the department stated they were not aware of the underlying problems of sex discrimination. Department officials further stated that it was just a small group of employees who had the issues and not a department wide issue.
Whether it is one individual or an entire department, sexually harassing behavior is often a sign of much deeper issues. Sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Title VII sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination. Under Title VII when an employer creates a work environment through sexually harassing conduct, and that conduct becomes so severe and pervasive that a reasonable person finds that environment hostile, then the employer maybe liable for hostile work environment sexual harassment.
Here, after an investigation the sexually charged environment created by DFW’s top brass was so clearly hostile that it constitutes a violation under Title VII. The DFW has hired Micha Alpern, a consultant at A.T. Kearny, to help them solve their sexual harassment problem. Kearny helps exposes flaws in the corporation’s standard procedures, promoting gender equality and the promotion of women in higher decision making positions.
The New York City sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC have years of experience litigating claims of sexual harassment. Working together with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys, the Derek Smith Law Group has been awarded some of the highest jury verdicts in U.S. history on behalf of our clients. If you feel you have been sexually harassed at work, please give our talented sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group a call, toll free, at 1877 4NYLAWS for your free consultation.
Call today to schedule a FREE sexual harassment or employment discrimination legal Consultation in NY, NJ & PA with one of our top rated employment law or sexual harassment attorneys here at the Derek Smith Law Group. You can reach us online or by calling . Our New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia labor & employment law attorneys handle a variety of cases involving sexual harassment, racial discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and other employment-related claims. We serve clients throughout New York, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. We also have offices in New Jersey and Philadelphia to serve you.
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