Yellowstone National Park Employees To Be Punished After Federal Investigation Of Sexual Harassment

Jul 28, 2017

The administration building at Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Nate Hegyi

Yellowstone National Park is taking action against up to a dozen employees after an investigation found some female workers were subjected to sexual harassment and other problems.

Superintendent Dan Wenk says some of the employees could be fired while others could receive suspensions or counseling.

“Tell me an organization that’s almost 1,000 employees and find me one that doesn’t have issues about work place issues, find me one,” said Wenk. “I don’t think you will. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve it.”

Did the OIG report show us that we had some things to work on? Absolutely. And we are, and we want to make sure that we’re fully aware of what’s happening throughout all of Yellowstone National Park, not just the one work unit that was singled out in that report.

The move comes as widespread reports of harassment, bullying and other misconduct have tarnished the image of the National Park Service and its parent agency, the U.S. Interior Department.

Federal investigators found problems at many of the nation’s most popular parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and the Grand Canyon.

Wenk says the actions against Yellowstone employees could start as early as August, but he wouldn’t give any more details, citing privacy.

A report released this spring by the Office of Inspector General says women within the park’s maintenance division were subjugated to sexist and racist remarks from some male employees.

“Did the OIG report show us that we had some things to work on? Absolutely. And we are, and we want to make sure that we’re fully aware of what’s happening throughout all of Yellowstone National Park, not just the one work unit that was singled out in that report,” said Wenk.

Wenk says the park will host focus groups next week to see if a culture of sexual harassment extends to other divisions.