Harass morass at DHS
Complaints jump in Janet era
By GEOFF EARLE, Bureau Chief Last Updated: 9:44 AM, August 14, 2012
WASHINGTON — The number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement workers who claimed they faced retaliation from superiors has more than doubled since Janet Napolitano took over, according to data obtained by The Post.
The stats — which also show an increase in sexual-harassment claims — come as James Hayes, a senior law-enforcement official, moves ahead with a lawsuit charging he faced a “hostile work environment” in which male employees face discrimination under Napolitano, who oversees ICE as head of Homeland Security.
Hayes, who also said higher-ups created a “frat-house” atmosphere, claims agency bosses tried to intimidate him by opening several investigations of his own conduct after he filed a complaint.
Agency-wide, the number of “reprisal” claims jumped from 43 in 2009 to 63 in 2010 and then hit 103 in 2011, as reported under the “No Fear Act,” which offers anti-discrimination and whistle-blower protections to federal workers.
The number of sexual-harassment claims jumped from two in 2009 to 10 in 2011, and the number of “nonsexual”-harassment claims rose from 37 in 2009 to 81 in 2011.
“Instead of investigating terrorists, look at the time and resources they spent to quell some discrimination complaint. Why in the world would they do that?” Hayes’ attorney, Morris Fischer, asked during a Post interview yesterday.
A DHS spokeswoman said that, “While the number of employees in the agency has increased, the number of credible findings against the agency remain exceedingly low.”
Hayes’ claims he was reassigned and sent to a lower-level post in New York in order to make way for Dora Schriro, described in the suit as having a “long-standing relationship with the secretary.”
Hayes had been directing detention operations and overseeing a $2.5 billion budget.
Mayor Bloomberg later appointed Schriro as head of the city’s Department of Correction.
The suit also makes the bombshell claim that Suzanne Barr, Napolitano’s chief of staff, rewarded male employees “who would play along with her sexually charged games” — which at one point allegedly included putting three men’s office nameplates onto stalls in a men’s bathroom at ICE headquarters.
It accuses her of numerous acts of “sexually offensive behavior” intended to “humiliate and intimidate male employees.”
Fischer said he has been told that Napolitano and Barr “are tennis partners.”