A federal watchdog group has revealed a new report citing a history of sexual harassment on the river trips through the Grand Canyon National Park. It has also spotlighted the laid-back attitude when complaints of sexual harassment have been reported to the Grand Canyon Park supervisors in the past 15 years.
The report is compiled from complaints lodged against staff who have propositioned fellow employees for sex and have inappropriately touched colleagues during these lengthy river trips. There are also complaints of the lewd language used, according to MSN News on January 13.
A “what happens on the river, stays on the river” attitude when it comes to these complaints was also cited in this probe and officials at the Grand Canyon National Park are in the process of changing this. This probe came about after 13 past and current employees filed a complaint in 2014 reporting the many sexual harassment incidents over the past decade and a half.
According to AZ Central, about a dozen people have received disciplinary action since 2003, which range from a written reprimand to termination, “but investigators say those actions are inconsistent, and many alleged incidents go unreported or aren’t properly vetted by supervisors.”
The Grand Canyon National Park maintains 280 miles of the Colorado River and staff will go on lengthy river trips that constitute staying overnight in tents along the banks of the river. Staff will act as guides for groups of students, politicians and researchers on these river trips. They do a dozen or so of these types of trips a year.
Incidents that are happening on these trips were cited in this recent report that was released on Tuesday. These incidents include behaviors such as a supervisor grabbing an employee’s crouch and a boatman taking a picture up a woman employee’s skirt. These are just two of the complaints that are cited in the report.
The officials at the Grand Canyon National Park have already addressed these types of behaviors by changing their alcohol policy on these trips. It used to be you could drink alcohol going down the river, then the officials changed that policy to staff could only drink on these trips when off-duty. Back in 2014, officials did away with allowing alcohol at all on these trips in hopes of changing the inappropriate behavior.
The report also found that these complaints were addressed with warning letters and some employees were terminated in the past. MSN reports the report also found that the Park Service “allowed a former Grand Canyon river district employee who resigned after being disciplined for repeated sexual harassment and misconduct to work elsewhere in the agency, including as a volunteer on a 2010 river trip.”
In another issue the Office of the Inspector General criticized the Park Service for not safeguarding the names of the 13 employees bringing these complaints forward. The complaint letter has been issued to at least two of the subjects of these complaints.