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Kerry Under Fire After IG Report Shows Uptick in Sexual Harassment Claims

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A report released by the Civil Rights Office has noted an increase in harassment and sexual harassment claims under Secretary John Kerry’s leadership. The State Department said Thursday the secretary is committed to having a safe work environment and is currently going through the report. “Secretary Kerry…has zero tolerance for harassment of any kind, sexual or otherwise. That’s clear,” spokesman John Kirby said. Read a transcript of the exchange, via QUESTION: This is on State Department personnel issue. The State OIG released an inspection report today on the department’s Civil Rights Office that highlights a significant increase in harassment and sexual harassment claims by department employees. The report actually says there were 248 such claims last year compared to just 88 three years ago. So, it also explicitly calls on the department to create a mandatory harassment training program. Apparently, one doesn’t currently exist. So is such a training program going to be created, and do you have a general comment on this situation? KIRBY: I’d make a couple of comments. First, there’s nothing that Secretary Kerry takes more seriously than making sure that everybody here at the State Department is treated with dignity and respect, and he has zero tolerance for harassment of any kind, sexual or otherwise. That’s clear. Point number two, the — we just now have received this report, and so we’re going through it. I’m not going to get ahead of decisions that the secretary will or won’t make about the recommendations. We are — and then the third thing I’d say is, you know, we’re grateful for the work that the I.G. continues to do to take a hard look at the institution and to find ways where we can improve. But back to the main point, zero tolerance for that kind of behavior. Secretary Kerry’s made that clear, and I think he’ll continue to do so. QUESTION: Does — does the Pentagon have a mandatory harassment training program? KIRBY: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

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