Barr concerned about low morale among LGBTQ employees at DOJ, he writes to Pride group
By Laura Jarrett and Caroline Kelly, CNN
April 5, 2019
(CNN) - Attorney General William Barr is concerned by reports of low morale among LGBTQ Justice Department employees and has directed the FBI to investigate allegations of discrimination, he wrote in a letter to the department's Pride group.
"I was troubled by the concerns you raised about low morale and in particular about discrimination against LGBTQ employees," Barr wrote Thursday. "I have shared your letter with the FBI and BOP and have directed them to take appropriate action to investigate and address allegations of discrimination and prevent it going forward."
The board of directors at DOJ Pride had written to Barr late last month, raising concerns about declining morale based on an internal survey of LGBTQ Justice employees last fall.
"Only 31% of respondents agreed that 'the Department of Justice values its LGBTQ employees,' and only 43% agreed that 'the Department of Justice does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,' " the board members wrote. "Perhaps the starkest result was that fewer than 10% of respondents agreed that 'the Department of Justice attracts and retains the best LGBTQ talent.' "
"Given the crucial role the Department fulfills in our society -- enforcing the nation's laws and administering justice -- we are concerned that so many employees who dedicate themselves to the Department do not think the Department values them, or that it attracts the best and brightest of the LGBTQ community," the letter adds.
The board also highlighted that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had never signed an equal employment opportunity statement. Barr has now signed the statement.
https://us.cnn.com/2019/04/05/politics/ ... index.html
Attorney general orders investigation of gay discrimination claims
William Barr’s letter marks a stark contrast from Jeff Sessions, who took steps to roll back protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
By Tim Fitzsimons
April 6, 2019
U.S. Attorney General William Barr ordered an investigation into the Department of Justice’s treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff following a complaint from DOJ Pride, its LGBTQ employee resource group.
In an April 4 letter to DOJ Pride released Friday, Barr said he was “troubled” by the group’s concerns, which were raised in a March 27 open letter. He said he directed the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons to “investigate and address allegations of discrimination.”
“Employment decisions at the Department must be made solely on merit and free from discrimination," Barr wrote.
Along with his letter, Barr also released an overdue Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement declaring that no department employee or applicant should face discrimination over race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability (physical or mental), gender identity, protected genetic information, pregnancy, status as a parent, marital status, political affiliation, or any other nonmerit-based factor.
Among DOJ Pride's concerns, as noted in its letter, was that Barr's predecessor, Jeff Sessions, had failed to issue an EEO statement, which is required of employers under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Prior to Barr's April 4 EEO issuance, the most recent such statement had been issued under the Obama administration. DOJ Pride said this, and other DOJ moves on LGBTQ rights, had led to low morale and resignations of LGBTQ staff.
“Issuing the statement is not only required by law — as you noted in your letter — it is the right thing to do,” Barr wrote in his response to DOJ Pride.
Barr’s letter marked a stark contrast from Sessions, who on several occasions took steps to roll back protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Citing a November 2018 survey of its members, DOJ Pride stated "morale is low among LGBTQ individuals currently employed in the Department" and the "Department is not recruiting and retaining top LGBTQ talent."
The letter also quoted one member who anonymously wrote in the survey: "It's difficult and demoralizing not knowing if your employer really believes LGBTQ people should have antidiscrimination protections."
Another comment stated: “Please do something about the FBI’s unfair evaluation process at the FBI Academy. There are many gay agents attending that are dismissed because they are not ‘bro-y’ or masculine enough.”
DOJ Pride said its survey found only 31 percent of members agreed that the Justice Department “values its LGBTQ employees,” and less than 10 percent agreed that the department "attracts and retains the best LGBTQ talent.”
“These statistics and statements point toward a set of issues the Department must address, including morale, recruitment, retention, and fair treatment,” the letter stated. It was signed by the president and board directors of DOJ Pride, who work in divisions across the Justice Department.
The Bureau of Prisons did not respond to a request for comment, and DOJ Pride declined to comment further.
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