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April 10, 2021

EEO director at Hill Air Force Base removed for mishandling cases of harrassment, discrimination

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Equal Opportunity Office director at Hill Air Force Base has been removed from her position due to her “improperly and unlawfully handling complaints involving sexual harassment and discrimination,” officials said.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel notified President Donald Trump and Congress of the dismissal on Wednesday. The director, whose name has not been released by the Air Force, was investigated by the Air Force’s Material Command Office of Inspector General after three whistleblowers came forward with complaints.

“I commend the whistleblowers for bravely coming forward to identify the violations of law, gross mismanagement, and abuses of authority at Hill Air Force Base,” said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner in a statement. “Sexual harassment and discrimination cannot be tolerated on American military bases, and whistleblowers who come forward deserve fair treatment and due process. While this case exposed numerous legal violations and other egregious conduct, I am encouraged that the agency is taking steps to restore the integrity of its EEO process.”

The report filed revealed that the investigation substantiated the whistleblowers’ claims and found that the director had:

  • Actively discouraged employees from filing EEO complaints, including telling one whistleblower that her (later substantiated) sexual harassment claims against her supervisor “wouldn’t carry weight” and “wouldn’t go anywhere” when the whistleblower tried to file a complaint
  • Illegally modified and rejected EEO complaints and allegations
  • Gave employees false and misleading information about the EEO process, including illegally denying a whistleblower the ability to remain anonymous at the informal stage of the EEO process and telling a filer that she was not entitled to file a claim when the filer was, in fact, entitled to do so
  • Failed to identify conflicts of interest by management during the EEO mediation process, including allowing a senior official accused of wrongdoing in a whistleblower’s EEO filing to serve as the sole settlement authority for the agency during that whistleblower’s EEO mediation.

After the results of the investigation, Air Force officials said that they took significant corrective actions which included removing the director from her position as EEO and reassigning her to an office with no involvement in the EEO process. In addition to actions involving her, Air Force officials said that they have committed to improving annual EEO training, issued new EEO policies involving conflicts of interest, and will “further investigate the conduct of two attorneys in the Hill Air Force Base Civil Law Division who failed to identify conflicts of interest during the EEO settlement process.”

The full letter regarding response to the investigation can be found here.

Ashley Fredde

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