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Sexual harassment allegations plague national parks

Many women dream of one day making a living by working in one of Florida and the nation's national parks, but an influx of recent allegations alleging sexual harassment and misconduct may be making these women think twice. Per The Atlantic, more than 60 former National Park Service employees came forward to the same publication in 2016, alleging they were sexually harassed or mistreated in the workplace. Many of the complaints followed a similar pattern in that they were filed by female workers who claimed that little was done to address their concerns or protect them.

Part of the problem may be because it is easier for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency tasked with enforcing harassment laws, to process complaints lodged by private sector employees than it is those filed by federal workers. The processes involved in doing both are vastly different, and there are more steps involved and more places for federal-employee matters to get caught up, opening the door for a failed system that does little to protect the women of America's national parks.

In addition to the complicated process federal employees face when reporting instances of sexual harassment, many women involved in the national park incidents that have recently come to light reported a fear of retaliation for “blowing the whistle.” Yet another likely contributing factor lies in the fact that reports to the EEOC must be made within 45 days, but many women who are subject to harassment or misconduct wait considerably longer to come forward. 

A recent Washington Post report detailing a hearing held late last year about the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment at national parks noted that many of the women who work there reside in rural, isolated areas. It also reported that an investigation revealed a years-long pattern of harassment at Florida’s own Canaveral National Seashore.

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