order non hybrid seeds LandRightsNFarming: Fwd: POLITICO's Morning Agriculture: Former USDA official: Discrimination ‘sy...

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fwd: POLITICO's Morning Agriculture: Former USDA official: Discrimination ‘sy...

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Subject: Fwd: POLITICO's Morning Agriculture: Former USDA official: Discrimination 'sy...
From: LawrLCL@aol.com
Sent: Thursday, December 1, 2016, 23:00


the congressional hearing & media coverage is beyond our expectation. this is just a small compared to what is & what is coming.


l. lucas 


From: Morning Agriculture <morningagriculture@politico.com>
Date: December 1, 2016 at 10:03:44 AM EST
To: <tp-staff@politico.com>
Subject: POLITICO's Morning Agriculture: Former USDA official: Discrimination 'systemic and institutionalized' —

By Jason Huffman | 12/01/2016 10:00 AM EDT

With help from Helena Bottemiller Evich and Catherine Boudreau

FORMER USDA OFFICIAL: DISCRIMINATION 'SYSTEMIC AND INSTITUTIONALIZED': Discrimination, sexual harassment, abuse and mismanagement of civil rights complaints have been pervasive at the Agriculture Department for decades, particularly at the U.S. Forest Service, Lesa Donnelly, vice president of the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, is expected to tell the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during a hearing this morning.

Whistleblowers say a culture of reprisal exists at USDA against those who report civil rights violations, which deters the filing of formal complaints. Further, agency investigations, if conducted, are often mismanaged and rarely result in the accused being held accountable, they charge.

"This is systemic and institutionalized," Donnelly told MA on Wednesday. She was a Forest Service administrator in California from 1978 to 2002. In 1996 she filed a class-action lawsuit against the agency on behalf of 6,000 women, alleging a continuing pattern of sexual harassment, hostile work environment and reprisal. It led to a consent decree under which the courts monitored the Forest Service through 2006. In August 2014, a group of eight women filed a separate complaint against the Forest Service alleging similar problems - the first step in what could become another class-action.

The alleged problems are said to reach the highest levels of USDA. The agency's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, which handles discrimination and harassment complaints, had an unusually high number filed against its own officials, according to a May 2015 letter to President Barack Obama from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Between November 2009 and September 2014, according to the letter and USDA officials, more than 50 percent of 231 complaints filed against senior USDA managers had not been investigated within the 180-day time frame required by law.

Joe Leonard, USDA's assistant secretary for civil rights and one of four witnesses slated to testify on Thursday, was expected to say that his office has made "profound strides" in its handling of complaints, according to an advanced copy of his testimony.

The hearing on USDA is House Oversight's latest in a series examining potential misconduct by federal employees and senior management officials, including at the National Parks Service (under the Department of the Interior) and EPA. Pros, stay tuned for our coverage of the hearing.