HILL AIR FORCE BASE – The head of the Hill Air Force Base Equal Opportunities Office was reassigned after failing to take sexual harassment complaints seriously.
This emerges from a series of documents released this week by the US Office of Special Counsel. Hill’s EO office director, first reported Thursday to the Salt Lake Tribune, was dismissed from his position after a US Air Force investigation found the director “improperly and unlawfully carried out the office’s responsibilities “.
In particular, the Air Force noted that the Director (who is not named in the publicly available documents on the case) had actively prevented Hill staff from filing EOO complaints, illegally changing complaints, false complainants trying to report harassment or to give misleading information. and conflicts of interest not properly identified.
The director was instigated by five whistleblowers, including three who had agreed to have their names published and two who wanted to remain anonymous. He told one complainant that a report of sexual harassment by a manager would not “go anywhere” or “carry weight”. “” The Air Force investigation also concluded that the EOO director illegally altered 10 out of 11 complaints from one whistleblower and mistakenly removed the language in the other complaint, rendering the charge essentially meaningless.
It was also found that the director falsely informed a complainant that he was not entitled to remain anonymous during the registration process.
In addition to the EOO director’s misdeeds, the investigation also found evidence that two lawyers in Hill’s civil law department also failed to identify conflicts of interest. One of the lawyers, the report said, appeared to have denied a whistleblower’s request for a formal investigation into sexual harassment claims when he was legally entitled to do so.
A letter from USOSC sent to President Donald Trump’s office said that evidence was found during the investigation that raised questions about the lawyers’ “competence and openness” and that mistakes were made by them, the one of the whistleblower’s cases made it more difficult to litigate. None of the lawyers were named in the document.
As a result of the investigation, the EOO base director was reassigned to another office without being involved in the EOO process. The Air Force has also mandated revised annual training for all EOO employees and introduced new guidelines for handling complaints in the office.
The two attorneys have been referred to the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps’ Professional Responsibility Program. This bureau has opened a separate investigation into allegations of unprofessional conduct.
Donovan Potter, Hill’s media chief, 75th Air Force Base, referred requests for comments on the case to the Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs Bureau at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The standard auditor could not reach the office at the time of this report.