Labor Department Won't Research Sexual Harassment Because It's "Complex & Costly"

Photo: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin.
As part of their efforts to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and 20 other Democratic senators asked the U.S. Department of Labor to research the prevalence and cost of this issue. Well, the agency is refusing to do so because collecting that data is apparently too much work.
"The Department is committed to preventing and eliminating workplace sexual harassment and understand your concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace," Acting Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner William Wiatrowski told Gillibrand in a letter first published by CNN. "However, collecting this information would be complex and costly."
The group of lawmakers — which also includes Sens. Patty Murray, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren – responded to the agency in a letter, calling the denial "disappointing" and the Department's justifications "wholly inadequate."
"Another federal agency dedicated to the federal workforce, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), was in fact able to conduct this type of data collection and analysis starting in the 1980s. In an update to this study in 1994, the MSPB conservatively estimated that over the course of two years, sexual harassment in the federal workforce cost the government a total of $327.1 million as a result of job turnover, sick leave, and decreased productivity," the letter reads. "Federal agencies were able to continue conducting surveys after this time. Surely the government’s capacity to collect data has only become more sophisticated over the past several decades."
The Labor Department is not the only government body that's been slow to take action in the #MeToo era. A bill that would reform how Congress handles sexual harassment cases passed the House with bipartisan support in February, but has yet to be brought up to the Senate floor. All 22 women senators — and more than a few men — have called for a vote, to no success.
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