Former FEMA Official Accused of Sexual Misconduct That Spanned Years: Corey Coleman had led the agency’s human resources office until June, when he resigned. Investigators will look into whether his behavior was criminal. pic.twitter.com/ajbfGAeTIJ— Dalen Percival (@PercivalDalen) July 31, 2018
Despite the prevalent #MeToo movement, women in workplaces still face harassment on a daily basis — and federal agencies are no different.
In a damning report by The Washington Post, it was revealed that a former personnel chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hired women so they could be potential sexual partners for his male friends.
Corey Coleman, who joined FEMA in 2011, would hire women whom he met at bars and dating sites based on their pre-conceived notions of sex and how open they would be to having workplace relationships.
Although, Coleman resigned in June 2018, amid a preliminary seven-month internal investigation, FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long, fears the long-standing effect would not be easily eliminated.
“What we uncovered was a systemic problem going back years,” Long said.
According to Long, since 2015, the former personnel chief hired many of his fraternity brothers to agency positions and would transfer women to different, sometimes exclusively created, jobs within the agency and different regional offices, in order to better position them for his friends to pursue relationships with them. Long also said these transfers would often not follow proper agency channels.
He said the on-going investigation will now focus on whether any of Coleman’s actions would amount to criminal sexual assault.
Long said, Coleman created a “toxic” work environment.
“The biggest problem I may solve here may be the eradication of this cancer,” he said. “How many complaints were not heard? I’ve got to make sure we have a safe working environment for our employees.”
The investigation against Coleman started after the FEMA administrator received a complaint from an employee that the former personnel chief sexually harassed her. Long also alleged many employees left the agency because of Coleman. The agency interviewed 73 current and former employees and took sworn testimonies from 98 people.
After that, Coleman was placed on administrative leave in April.
Coleman also reportedly had sexual relations with two of his subordinates, one in 2015 and other in 2017. After the relationships ended, the former personnel forced one of the women to go on dates — threatening to fire her if she did not oblige. The other woman was transferred to another position, for which she agreed she was not qualified.
Another alleged former employee at FEMA’s Human Capital Office in Washington, D.C., claimed Coleman knew he could get away with whatever he wanted at the agency, in a review at Glassdoor.com.
“[Coleman] knows exactly what he can get away with and pushes the limits as far as he can, while ‘leadership’ above him is standing by and doing nothing to stop him,” the person wrote in Arpil.
Long, in a statement published on FEMA’s website, requested the DHS Office of the Inspector General to further investigate the sexual misconduct complaints related to the agency.
FEMA employees are also to complete a training program “to recognize, report, and prevent sexual harassment.”
“Employees at FEMA devote their careers to caring for disaster survivors in their time of greatest need. We must care for our own with the same respect, compassion, and advocacy that we bring to our external operations,” Long said in the statement.
Banner / Thumbnail : Brittany Trotter/FEMA