SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
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TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 23, 1997
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
FRANK RIGGS, California
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JACK METCALF, Washington
JO ANN EMERSON, Missouri
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
JAY W. JOHNSON, Wisconsin
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
Subcommittee on Aviation
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee, Chairman
ROY BLUNT, Missouri Vice Chairman
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
JACK METCALF, Washington
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
PAT DANNER, Missouri
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Avery, Julia, Air Traffic Control Specialist, Houston Air Route Traffic Center
Garvey, Jane, Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
Gonzales, Jan Vera, Class Agent, John Wayne Tower
Henson, Joan M., Air Traffic Control Specialist, Atlanta, GA
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McNally, Michael, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Reed, Carl W., Operational Supervisor, Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center, Houston, TX
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Brown, Hon. Corrine, of Florida
Costello, Hon. Jerry F., of Illinois
Johnson, Hon. Eddie Bernice, of Texas
Lipinski, Hon. William O., of Illinois
Oberstar, Hon. James L., of Minnesota
Poshard, Hon. Glenn, of Illnois
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
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Garvey, Jane F
Gonzales, Jan Vera
Henson, Joan M
Reed, Carl W
ADDITIONS TO THE RECORD
Inhofe, Hon. James M., a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, letter from Stacey M. West, Air Traffic Controller, Tulsa International Airport, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Information Provided by the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation
FAA Employment As of March 31, 1997
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT THE FAA
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Aviation,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:15 a.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Duncan, Jr. (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. I'll call the subcommittee to order at this time.
And first of all, I want to say good morning and welcome to our hearing regarding various allegations of sexual harassment that have been made by employees of the Federal Aviation Administration.
I want to say first of all that I want to welcome all of the witnesses here, particularly the new Administrator, Jane Garvey, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, and the other witnesses who have come long distances in some cases to be here with us this morning.
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I apologize for the delay in our starting time, but due to a conference meeting, it was requested that we back the starting time up from 9:30 to 10:15. Let me also remind members that we have a subcommittee mark up later this afternoon on some very important legislation, and that mark up will begin promptly at 3:00.
I want to especially thank Administrator Garvey for taking time from what I know is a very busy schedule to be here with us today. I know that the Administrator has other commitments, and so I will be very brief in my remarks.
But let me say that I have been very, very impressed with the way in which Administrator Garvey has quickly grasped the often complex and difficult issues associated with aviation since being appointed to her new position just a few months ago.
Administrator Garvey has done a great job in every position in which she has served over the years, and I am confident that she will continue to do a fine job for the FAA and for the Nation.
Obviously, sexual harassment should not be tolerated in the work place or any place, for that matter. And I am certain that Ms. Garvey feels the same way about this as I do. Although, in an agency employing nearly 48,000 employees, I suppose we will have some unfortunate situations that will occur from time to time.
What the subcommittee would like to hear today is how prevalent is this sexual harassment at the FAA and how the Agency is dealing with these cases. This hearing was scheduled at the request of Congresswoman Millender-McDonald, a very active and distinguished member of this subcommittee.
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A few months ago, the publication USA Today published a story about a number of cases that appear to have been dealt with in a less than satisfactory manner, so we want to review this and determine if we can help improve the way in which the sexual discrimination and harassment cases can be dealt with in a timely and fair manner.
We do not want to over sensationalize something or blow something out of proportion. I am sure that, with all the 48,000 employees of the FAA, that almost all of the men and all of the women working there are good people and have good working relationships with each other.
But, as I say, we don't need to tolerate even a small percentage, even a minute percentage of sexual harassment. And we want to do everything possible we can to make sure that that does not occur or occurs very, very, very rarely.
That's all I have at this time, and I now will yield to my good friend and colleague, Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. And let me say publicly thank you for your unreserved support to this issue when I brought it to your attention.
I'd like to welcome all of the female air traffic controllers who are here today and do know that you have my support. I would also like to welcome our new FAA administrator, Jane Garvey, who, before she was confirmed, came and sat with me for two hours to discuss this issue and right away began to look into this issue before her confirmation.
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And I appreciate her for doing this.
Mr. Chairman, let me begin again by thanking you, the ranking member of Mr. Lipinski, the leadership of the full committee, Chairman Shuster and ranking member Mr. Oberstar, for agreeing to hold this hearing.
I would also like to thank my colleague, Congresswoman Kay Granger, for stepping up to the plate and co-signing the letter to the Congressional Women's Caucus to inform them of this issue, and my female colleagues who serve on this subcommittee for signing the letter to the Women's Caucus announcing this very important and serious hearing today.
These actions illustrate the strong support and cooperation these members, including the Chairman, the ranking members, and the full committee Chairman and ranking member, that they extended to me when I called for this hearing.
Their immediate response and sensitivity to the allegations raised is greatly appreciated by me, the women employees of the FAA, and the American public.
On Tuesday evening, the women members of the House celebrated 20 years of service as a caucus in the United States House of Representatives and as torch bearers on women's issues.
Yesterday, one of our Women's Caucus colleagues held a hearing celebrating 25 years of Title IX, and to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring women's rights and equal opportunity in high school and collegiate athletic competition.
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Opportunities made possible by this legislation have resulted in women exploring and being successful in nontraditional careers. However, with these opportunities have come disturbing consequences which should be of concern to all who support equal opportunity.
Where women are making advances in nontraditional careers, we have seen complaints of sexual discrimination and allegations of sexual harassment following. Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration may be of no difference.
Sexual discrimination and harassment complaints filed under the EEOC process have soared 70 percent, from 258 in 1994 to 438 in 1996. This year alone, 397 cases of sexual harassment have been filed.
The purpose of this hearing today is three-fold. First, to focus congressional attention on this trend, ie. the growing numbers of EEOC complaints of sexual harassment being reported by women employees ofttimes in fear of losing their jobs due to what they perceive as a lack of support when the incidents are reported.
Second, to ensure that legislative and administrative actions are undertaken to ensure that the work environment is not hostile and intimidating to those who make their livelihoods at FAA administered work sites.
And thirdly, to reassure the American public, especially airline passengers and the industry that has come to rely on competent and professional air traffic control, that their safety is foremost in the minds and actions of the controllers on whom they rely from the moment they board a plane until they arrive at their destination.
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Mr. Chairman, you and I and the members are well aware of how much time we spend in the air, and we certainly want to make sure that our safety is foremost in the forefront and do not wish to have anyone being groped by anyone as they tend to direct a big jetliner into landing.
Imagine, if you will, Mr. Chairman and members, the concentration, the attention to detail required to safely guide an aircraft filled with hundreds of passengers to a landing.
In the midst of communicating directions regarding proper separation of different aircrafts, a controller is touched or fondled, or overhears an inappropriate sexually explicit remark that has the effect of disrupting her concentration.
Imagine the pressure of maintaining composure while knowing she has in her possession the lives of those passengers.
And yet, when I read the news article printed in the July 18th edition of USA Today highlighting the story of a group of female air traffic controllers alleging sex discrimination and sexual harassment at a number of air traffic control towers, radar stations and other FAA regulated facilities in Orange County, California and across the country, I was shaken given the amount of time I personally spend in the air.
Currently, 25 female air traffic controllers have submitted statements complaining of sexual harassment. And when reported, supervisors have failed to stop it.
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A former Department of Transportation Inspector General indicated she received several telephone calls from women complaining about sexual harassment and a lack of action on their complaints. One case filed in 1994 has only been opened recently by the FAA.
Mr. Chairman, the stakes are high as we explore this issue today. Of the 22,718 air traffic controllers at the Federal Aviation Administration, only 15 percent are women. By contrast, 46 percent of the FAA general work force are women.
With the work force becoming increasingly dominated by women, with females projected to become a majority of the work force by the year 2005, we cannot allow unwanted, unsolicited, nor undesirable working conditions or a hostile environment to be tolerated.
I know I speak for my colleagues when I state that. And I would like to again thank the Chairman, the ranking member for this opportunity. And I hope that all FAA employees recognize that sexual harassment or sex discrimination of any type have no place in the work place.
And I, for one, will not tolerate that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Ms. Millender-McDonald.
We now have been joined by the ranking member of the subcommittee, and I would like to call on Mr. Lipinski at this time.
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Mr. LIPINSKI. First of all, I apologize for being late, Mr. Chairman.
But second, I want to thank you very much for holding this very important hearing. It was brought to our attention by, as you've already mentioned, I'm sure, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald, who brought it to my attention, probably brought it directly to your attention also.
And you and I discussed it, and we felt this was a very important issue and we wanted to hold a hearing on it. And I appreciate you doing so. But we are principally here today because of our good friend Juanita's impetus to this issue.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lipinski follows:]
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Ranking Member.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Vice Chairman Blunt.
Mr. BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And again, I want to thank Congresswoman Millender-McDonald for bringing this to the committee's attention; and to you for your response in holding this hearing; and our colleague, Ms. Granger, for joining this effort to call attention to the hearing today.
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I look forward to the information from the hearing. Certainly I want to associate myself with the remarks that have already been made. There is no other work place that I can think of in America where security in the work place is more important, where the ability to concentrate, the ability to feel safe, the ability to do your job and do your job with the support, not the detraction, of your colleagues is critical.
And I know that Ms. Garvey is going to take this as an item of serious interest on her part as well.
And appreciate you holding the hearing today, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Ms. DANNER. Mr. Chairman, recognizing that Administrator Garvey does have to be elsewhere, I think it's prudent that I not make any comments at this time.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. GRANGER. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing.
Sexual harassment is a serious problem in today's workplace. Sexual harassment is not only unnecessary and unacceptable, it's also degrading. In the worst case, it can also be dangerous.
As far as I am concerned, sexual harassment or misconduct has no place in any part of society, but it's especially troubling to me when charges of harassment come from men and women in the Federal work place.
Our Government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. And millions of Americans expect the Government to protect their rights. Just as we cannot tolerate sexual harassment anywhere in our society, particularly in the Federal work place, we must also approach allegations without presupposing guilt or extent.
Instead, the Aviation Subcommittee today has the serious responsibility to determine whether the testimony we are about to hear is an accounting of isolated problems involving a small number of employees in specific FAA facilities, or whether the testimony is indicative of widespread problems and procedural failures throughout all levels of management in the FAA.
Let me say that any problem, to any extent, certainly deserves and should be remedied. But I think we also need to determine the extent of the problem.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to thank particularly the panelists who have volunteered to testify before this panel today. It must be very difficult for them to talk about the harassment they've endured on the job. So we're grateful for their testimony, and we're concerned about what they've experienced.
I also want to offer my assistance and cooperation to FAA Administrative Garvey who has inherited this problem and now must work to fix it. I hope we can move past who or what's to blame and have a real dialogue about the issue and what can be done to keep problems from occurring, and we certainly offer our assistance.
Mr. Chairman, as you said, we're not here to sensationalize the issue, but to solve the problem. So again, I thank you, and I thank all who are participating.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. CUMMINGS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank you and our ranking member for this bipartisan effort to address a very, very significant problem. I also want to thank my colleague, Ms. Millender-McDonald, for she and I and many others have visited Aberdeen Proving Ground many months ago.
And although there were only a few congress people that went, we saw the pain and the anguish on many young women's faces. We heard their words, and we felt their tears.
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And I thank you, Ms. Millender-McDonald, for your leadership in this. And I am glad that this is a bipartisan effort. I think when it comes to sexual harassment, partisanship must end at the door of sexual harassment.
Mr. Chairman, I have read the testimony of the witnesses, and I must say I am very, very disturbed. We will hear testimony from witnesses who suffered the indignity of being told ''show some cleavage'' in order to achieve occupational success or to maintain a job.
This cannot be tolerated. We will hear from witnesses who will testimony that, on numerous occasions, they have complained to personnel management regarding sexual harassment and sexual discrimination; and as a result, found no, noand I underline nocorrective action.
As a matter of fact, when they tried to complain, it made situations worse. This iscannot be tolerated.
Mr. Chairman, I encourage and implore the distinguished members of this subcommittee to use our efforts to send a very powerful and a very strong message to employees in upper division personnel of the Federal Aviation Administration and anybody else, and throughout the entire Federal Government, that sexual harassment and sexual discrimination will not be tolerated by this Government and the American people.
Mr. Chairman, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination are as odious and evil as discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation.
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The allegations of our brave and courageous panel of witnesses demonstrate the significant emotional and financial cost of increased hostile work environments which allow sexual harassment and discrimination to run rampant.
The Federal Government must set a positive example for industries in the private sector. How are we to set such an example if segments of our Government are allowing sexual harassment and discrimination to persist?
Mr. Chairman, our mission today should not be purely rhetorical. Our mission must be to investigate how such an environment has percolated into the Federal Aviation Administration whereby such actions of sexual harassment and discrimination have been permitted and, in many cases, unpunished.
Next, our goal should be to encourage Administrator Garvey to develop an environment where such action is unwarranted and not tolerated. Then we can truly call our action a success.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I ask that thesemy statement be a part of the record.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COOK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have no opening statement.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. I believe Mr. Cramer was here next.
Mr. CRAMER. Mr. Chairman, I only have a brieffew remarks.
Welcome back to the committee, Madame Administrator. I know you take this subject matter, as we do, very seriously. I look forward to the testimony that we have to hear today so that we can be proactive about this and not sit on our hands and continue to let a problem be an even bigger problem.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Cooksey. Dr. Cooksey.
Mr. COOKSEY. No comments, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Ms. Johnson.
Ms. JOHNSON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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I thank you, the ranking member, and Ms. Millender-McDonald for encouraging you to call this hearing, and I can appreciate the fact that you've done so.
Despite what some people want to believe, sexual harassment is alive and thriving in America. Sexual harassment is not something that only happens at some other company. But it is possibly happening in the United States Government, specifically the Federal Aviation Agency.
Despite all of the TV shows, movies, negative publicity, and the headline making news about how bad sexual harassment is, it is still one of the most frequently reported complaints in the work place today.
If you are being victimized by it, the real issue is what can you do about it. If you are being sexually harassed, who would you want to turn to for help?
Mr. Chairman and colleagues, I hope this hearing will answer those tough questions. Many companies use the ostrich approach in dealing with sexual harassment. They stick their heads in the sand and pretend it does not exist.
I hope the Federal Government and this subcommittee will not do the same.
Mr. Chairman, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
It is in my opinion that this Congress and this subcommittee should perform like the EEOC and look at the whole record when it comes to investigating sexual harassment in one of its Government agencies.
We need to look at the circumstances such as the nature of the advancements, the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegation should be made from the facts on a case by case basis.
Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the work place. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.
They can do so by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee raises complaints.
Let me end my statement with this important point. Harassment does not occur because women dress provocatively or initiate sexual activity in the hope of getting promoted and advancing their careers.
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Studies have found that victims of sexual harassment vary in physical appearance, types of dress, age and behavior. The only thing they have in common is that the overwhelming majority of the victims are women.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to working with you and the subcommittee in finding ways to alleviate this problem not only within FAA, but in all the work places.
I yield back the balance of my time.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Johnson follows:]
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. POSHARD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you and the ranking minority member, Mr. Lipinski, for holding this hearing today. And also Representative Millender-McDonald for her efforts at ensuring this topic is addressed.
By any standard, the allegations regarding sexual harassment at the Federal Aviation Administration are disturbing. Quite simply, sexual harassment cannot be tolerated in any Federal agency.
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Recent years have seen embarrassing and damaging revelations of inappropriate behavior in the military and other Government agencies. If we do not address this problem seriously wherever it occurs, we may lose the ability to have any impact on it whatsoever.
As presented to us today, at least some women at the FAA feel the work environment there is detrimental to not only their advancement and growth, but also their safety. From the accounts I have seen, it would seem these fears are warranted. We need to discuss how prevalent these examples are and how the FAA is responding to them.
Have steps been taken to make the investigation of sexual harassment complaints more efficient?
Have the training programs and efforts to bring this problem to light within the agency been more than just token efforts?
Are punishments for harassers strong enough?
These are the issues we have to get a better sense of today.
Mr. Chairman, the United States stands for the opportunity to succeed through hard work. Steps must be taken to ensure that all workers have this ability, especially when employed by the Federal Government. But this is not the case.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look forward to learning more about the depth of this problem and appreciate the time and concern of our panelists who will speak to us today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statements of Mr. Poshard and Ms. Brown follows:]
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. FOX. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I appreciate the opportunity that you have afforded us, members on both sides of the aisle, to face an issue which deserves bipartisan cooperation, investigation and appropriate change.
Like my colleagues who have preceded me, I agree that we cannot tolerate sexual harassment in the work place. And these hearings and the witnesses that will speak are certainly welcomed here today. And the changes that should be forthcoming again will be bipartisan in making a positive follow through.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your assistance in this regard.
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Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
We have two members who are not members of the subcommittee. But without objection, I'm going to allow them to participate in the hearing today.
However, I would request that if either Ms. Christian-Green or Ms. Jackson-Lee has a statement, that they just submit it for the record at this time because we need toMs. Garvey has to leave here before long to catch a plane.
And so, if you wish to make a statement, I'll let you do so after her testimony. And we will call up panel one at this time. And the first panel is Ms. Jane Garvey, who is the administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Ms. Garvey, it's an honor to have you here with us today, and you may begin your testimony.
TESTIMONY OF JANE GARVEY, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
Administrator GARVEY. Well, good morning, Mr. Chairman. And good morning, Members of the Subcommittee.
I'm pleased to be here this morning. I very much appreciate the opportunity to tell you what the FAA is doing to provide a safe, a professional and appropriate work environment for its more than 48,000 employees.
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I know how important this issue is to each and every member of the Subcommittee. I've heard from many of you on this issue. And I remember very well, Congresswoman, that very warm day in August when we spent a couple of hours talking about the issue and talking about solutions and approaches that we might take.
And I must say I very much appreciate the bipartisan support that I've heard here this morning for efforts that I know we need to undertake and that we will undertake at the FAA to deal with this extremely important issue.
And I also appreciate being here a little bit earlier this morning to have time to speak with the women controllers who are here to offer their testimony this morning. It was very heartwarming for me to be able to get to know them and to talk to them very directly.
My policy on sexual harassment is simple. I do notI will nottolerate it in any manner. My responsibility is to make sure that that message is communicated, to make sure that that message is understood by every manager, by every employee at the FAA work force. And that proper guidance and proper training exists to reinforce it.
My job is also to ensure that when guidance and training failand we certainly hope it won'tbut when it does fail, that offenders are held strictly accountable. And I am asking each FAA manager and each employee within the Agency to help me combat sexual harassment at every opportunity, at every level, and in every facility.
I'd like to talk just for a few minutes about actions we are taking in three critical areas: guidance, prevention through effective training, and accountability. These efforts are also discussed in greater detail in my formal statement for the record.
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First of all, building on the efforts of former administrator David Hinson and deputy administrator Linda Daschle, I recently signed policy statements on sexual harassment, on model work environments, and civil rights.
These policy statements are compatible with the Agency's Model Work Environment Plan which was signed in July 1996. The Model Work Environment Plan is FAA's commitmentit's a commitment in writing to achieving a discrimination-free environment.
One plank in the model work environment effort is issuing performance standards that require managers to create and maintain a productive, a hospitable work place. We issued the standards on October 2nd of this year, and managers will be expected to meet those standards.
But I want to be very clear that policies are really just the first step. I wanted to do that because I thought it was important to send that message very early on in my administration. I wanted to send the message very early on.
But I know that it's just the first step, and that the real key is whether or not those policies are taken seriously, whether or not those policies are implemented.
And that, I think, really leads us to the second point, and that is the issue of training. To supplement the current training activities we have at the FAA, we are planning to ensure that additional core training on sexual harassment is provided to the FAA employees.
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Core training will include course work for supervisors, for managers; refresher courses for current managers; and initial training for all new managers.
I was very delighted about three weeks ago to participate in a meeting that the Secretary called for the modal administrators. And he asked the Coast Guard to do a presentation of its work in sexual harassment.
They have done, I think, a very fine job of dealing with the issue of sexual harassment. And we felt that there was a great deal that we could look at with the Coast Guard. And I've asked my staff to look at those materials as something to potentially build on.
We're also going to be asking our labor partners, the unions, to work with us. Close collaboration with the unions is critical to our success. And we'd like very much to keep the subcommittee informed of our progress in developing a training program that all agree is effective and appropriate.
But as you know, the FAA is responsible for investigating and resolving informal EEO complaints, which is usually the initial avenue for resolution of an allegation. Investigation and resolution of formal complaints is the responsibility of the Department of Transportation's Office of Civil Rights.
I believe each office, both ours at the FAA and the Secretary's office, can make improvements in the way it handles complaints. FAA is working on increasing its success rates in resolving complaints at the informal counseling stage when that's feasible.
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And I know that the Department's Civil Rights Office, now headed by Ron Stroman, is planning to attack the current back log of overall EEO investigations, including sexual harassment complaints.
And I must say I'm delighted that Mr. Stroman has joined us. He's a breath of fresh air. He asked two important questions. How do we eliminate the back log, and how can we do our job better? And I look forward to working with him.
I'm very concerned that some believe that FAA managers are not being held accountable for their actions, and that's the third plank, accountability. And that retaliation may occur. To address these concerns, I've asked our Civil Rights Office to propose additional assurances that appropriate action is being taken.
And I see great potential in the creation of an additional forum, an independent board, that can provide an independent review of management actions. We see a great model in the U.S. Customs Service, and that's something we're looking at, and that's something that we may emulate at the FAA.
I think it holds great promise for us. I see the forum as one separate from the EEO process and believe it could be utilized even in the absence of a formal complaint or grievance. It would also improve tracking and monitoring of allegations, which would help identify particular problem areas.
We'd also like to make better use of alternative dispute resolution in resolving work environment issues, including sexual harassment. And I'm pleased to announce that we've just filled a key position that will serve as the legal focal point for ADR in the FAA.
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Making progress on the model work environment is a priority for me. It's one I take very seriously. It's one I now is very close to the Secretary as well. And I want very much to achieve measurable progress in implementing the model work environment this year.
We're hosting a national conference December 2nd. We're hosting a conference that will have workshops and presentations aimed at implementing model work environment principles in every agency of the FAA.
We expect hundreds of managers, hundreds of human resource specialists, hundreds of employees, as well as the unions, to attend those sessions. In addition, I want to make measurable progress in the area of the core training program.
I want to make sure that we're responding swiftly and appropriately to the back logs that are in front of us. And I want to make sure that we are communicating clearly to our employees how important the work environment is.
Mr. Chairman, with these steps, FAA will make progress on ensuring that every worker is treated respectfully, that every worker is treated equally. But I will also sayand this is my commitment to you, and it's my commitment to the employees at the FAA.
If we need to take additional action, if we need to take additional steps, we will do it. I am determined to do it. I want the FAA to continue to do the excellent job it does in maintaining the world's safest aviation system.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I also want the FAA to be a place where people want to work, where people are proud to work. This hearing, I believe, and your efforts and your interest, each and every one of you, is a very helpful step in ensuring that the FAA becomes a true model work place for everyone.
I'm very pleased to be here, and I look forward to working with you on this and many other aviation issues.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, Ms. Garvey.
And let me apologize to you, but we do have a vote going on. We will have to break very briefly at this time. And we'll come right back to begin some questions.
Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Ms. Garvey, I understand that other members, and especially Ms. Millender-McDonald, are on their way back, but I'm going to go ahead and just begin with some questions very briefly.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. But according to the Inspector General's Office, they say this is primarily a problem in air traffic control. Do you have any explanation for that or know why it would be a bigger problem in air traffic control than in other parts of the FAA?
Administrator GARVEY. Well, let me say, Mr. Chairman, that I think there are areas within air traffic control where the problem is more apparent. We're working very, very closely with the management folks at air traffic control to just deal with those issues, to deal with some of the accountability issues which I think is very important.
I'm not exactly sure I can give a reason as to why it's more prevalent there, but it's definitely a problem, and we want to correct it. As I think Congresswoman McDonald mentioned in her opening statement, the numbers are growing Government-wide, and I think that's a concern for all of us.
Getting at the heart of the problem and resolving it is what we really want to focus on.
Mr. DUNCAN. Of thethe figures that I was given by staff is that the FAA employees approximately 48,000 people. Is that correct?
Administrator GARVEY. That is correct.
Mr. DUNCAN. How many men and how many women?
Administrator GARVEY. Well there is obviously a very small percentage of women with the workforce. And in air traffic control, that is an even smaller number. And I think one of the challenges for us is to really recruit more women employees.
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In fact, I did not mention this in my oral testimony, but in my written testimony, I speak to the issues of recruitment, because I think one of the ways that you can make a more hospitable work place is to create a kind of environment where diversity is really respected.
And you do that by targeting and trying to recruit more women to some of these important positions. I've had some conversations with the technical women's organization with the FAA, as well as the professional women controllers to talk about ways that we might target some additional women for some of these positions.
We've actually even brought on board a very small 8(a) recruitment organization that's going to help us with our recruitment efforts in this area as well. I think that goes a long way. Bringing people in who represent diversity, bringing people in who are perhaps more sensitive to this area is one way to deal with it as well.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, there have been some reports aboutthat sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination training have been on hold for a while. Is that correct?
Administrator GARVEY. Yes, and I understand from talking with staff at the FAA that there were some controversies and there were some difficulties witharound some of the training that was in place several years ago.
And that has put some of the training on hold. I think it does give us an opportunity though now to really shape training in a way that we think can be even more productive.
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And again, I would cite the Coast Guard as one possibility and one area where we really have seen some good progress and would like to work closely with the Coast Guard to see how much of that we can emulate and how much of that we can bring into our own training practice.
And again, working very closely with the unions. It's got to be, I think, a collaborative effort.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, let me say this. We want to make sure that everything that can be donecan reasonably be done is done about this. And we want to make sure that appropriate training is given. But I know a few years ago, there was some type of sensitivity training, and there was a man named Gregory May.
And it becameI don't even remember what it was called, but it was so off the wall and crazy. It was just some kind of kooky type training that went on at the FAA. And I remember it was a national type scandal.
We need to make sure that if the training that goes on is notthat it is rational, sensible, and training that the great, overwhelming majority of the American people would realize is a good thing to do.
And speaking of that though, or leading into something else, what is the typical punishmentor what has been done to somebody who has been clearly proven to have sexually harassed somebody at the FAA? What type of punishment? Or, if you don't know that, do you intend to be very, very tough on somebody if a case is proven?
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Administrator GARVEY. The punishment, Mr. Chairman, can range from anything from a reprimand, something that's written into somebody's file, to an actual removal, and there are obviously stages along the way.
I have asked our Civil Rights Office to take a look at how we make determinations, what we deem as appropriate or what action we deem appropriate for what infraction. And that is something that we're taking another look at.
But it does range from a reprimand to actual removal.
Mr. DUNCAN. And this is something that's notit's sort of related to this, but not exactly. But there was aI've been told that there was a man in the air traffic control tower in Buffalo who brought a prostitute into the tower there or prostitutes, and that's a terrible thing to do.
And I understand that the FAA fired that man, which, if the reports that I received were true, he definitely should have been fired. But what I'm wondering about, does somebody like that who does something so terrible, does he lose his benefits, his pension?
Because I think they should.
Administrator GARVEY. I'd have to double check on that, Mr. Chairman. I do remember that incident. He was removed. There is an arbitration or there is an appeal process that is underway. And I assume that some of that be determined through the appeal process.
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But let me get back to you with more specifics on that.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Mr. Chairman, if you don't mind, I'd like to go to Juanita first of all.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you so much, Mr. Ranking Member and Mr. Chairman.
Let me first again thank Ms. Garvey for quickly and expeditiously coming to my request via telephone when I read this article and even before she was confirmed came. And she came to not cast doubt or blame, but to get down to the seriousness of the issue.
So we thank you so much.
We do know you have to leave for a plane. This was in the makings before the hearing, so we are happy that you're here to receive the questions.
If your administration is going to have zero tolerance when it comes to sexual harassment or sex discrimination, what differentiates your plans and your program from that that is already in place?
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Administrator GARVEY. That's an excellent question and one that I have asked myself, what can we do to make it better?
I think the accountability board, is something that holds great promise for us, and I want to look at that. And again, in speaking with some of the women controllers earlier, this issue of how do we provide a kind of independent assessment of our actions I think is also important.
So I think that's one piece that may be different. I don't want to eliminate the need that really does exist in the regions to train or tailor training to meet individual regional needs.
But having said that, I do think there's a core training that we ought to be providing to everyone in the Agency, starting with our managers and our supervisors. So I think the core training will be something that will also be distinctive, if you will.
And I think third, a real implementation of the model work place, reinforcing that at every turn. And I hope that people will see some of the early actions or some of the actions that really are holding people accountable.
We're going to hold folks accountable through the performance agreements that I have with each of the senior managers. They will in turn hold their managers accountable as well. Our goal is zero tolerance. Our goal is to make this a hospitable workplace.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think the additional training, additional recruitment, the independent board are some opportunities for some differences, if you will, for, I hope, areas of distinction.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. When you speak about core training, how often will you have these training sessions; annually, biannually or what would be your time span?
Administrator GARVEY. I think our first goal would be to make sure that every new manager is able to take advantage of that kind of training initially. But I also think that we need to build in ways to do refresher courses.
And I find this is true even in the technical area. As good as people are and as much as they've been part of the profession for a number of years, we all benefit from going back to issues and sort of reexamining them and taking advantage of our sort of current thinking.
So I think that does provide an opportunity. How often we do provide refresher courses, I think, is something that we'd need to flesh out in more detail. And we'd be happy to work with you and to update the subcommittee on how we would fashion it more directly.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. I would certainly like to do that.
Working on the National Commission on Teaching and changing the whole methodology of teaching now in our schools, we do find that professional development is needed on an ongoing basis. And so this core training could very well be needed on an ongoing basis.
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When you suggest accountability, how can we ensure accountability with the FAA with reference to this?
Administrator GARVEY. One of the ways that we can ensure accountability, I think, first of all, is holding our own, from our senior managers on down, accountable for some of the actions that occur within their organizations.
I think that's one way. In addition, the independent board may hold the real opportunity for us to provide that kind of independent assessment to say, are the appropriate actions being taken, did management respond in a way that really is productive, is the right action?
I think that gives an independent look that could be useful as well.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. One more question, Mr. Chairman.
You stated that there was a certain amount of training on sexual harassment in other forms of discrimination placed on hold for a few years. Can you expound on that?
Administrator GARVEY. This was something that the Chairman had mentioned as well. There was some controversy a few years ago about some of the training that FAA had in place, so some of the elements have been held on hold.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is still training that does occur in the field on sexual harassment anywhere from about two to eight hours, depending on the region. But that is something that I do want to look at for the core training to see if we can bring a kind of consistency and a sort of threshold level for each of our field facilities.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to just ask, Mr. Chairman, if we can get at least a question from Ms. Donna Christian-Green who's representing Women's Caucus here before Ms. Garvey leaves.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, I'm going to let her ask questions. And I am told that there were two types of training going on. One was theone was management training and one was training for employees. But some of that training made some of the women who were involved answer very embarrassing questions, and some of them were made to feel terrible.
And we just don't need that type of thing going on when we're trying to make the situation better, not worse.
Mr. POSHARD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it. And Ms. Garvey, I appreciate your being here.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me just ask you, if I maylast year, I went through a situation in my district where another agency had a manager in a local office that six women accused of sexual harassment.
And it literally took over a year for that agency to make the decision to move that person physically out of that office, claiming that the person had certain legal rights and civil rights and so on due to him also.
Why is that though? I mean, from what you know already, why is it impossible to physically remove someone to another location so at least they can alleviatethe Agency can alleviate the fear of the people who made the complaints being in the same physical proximity?
Administrator GARVEY. Well, I wish I could give you a very successor a very satisfactoryI'm not sure I will, Congressman, because I
Mr. POSHARD. But you've had incidents likesimilar to this in your Agency, right?
Administrator GARVEY. Well, I've only been here for about 10 weeks, but I know that there have been those kinds of incidents. And that is one issue that we've talked with the Secretary's office about is well, what can we do in the interim situation?
And I don't fully yet have an answer to that. I think in some casesand again, I think it's case by caseyou can remove somebody from a situation and resolve it satisfactorily so that they're not in the same environment.
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On the other hand, I know that there may be other cases where that's more complicated. But I agree with you. I am not a lawyer, and I don't know all of the legal ramifications of it. And we always, of course, want to be careful of protecting people's rights.
But certainly victims have rights, as so many of us have been reminded, as well. And I think that's a fair question.
Mr. POSHARD. Well, let me ask you something else. In your statement, you said a number of efforts are under consideration, including incorporation of mediation techniques early on in the complaint process.
What's that mean? What does that mean pragmatically? What do you mediate when six people come and say
Administrator GARVEY. Well, that may not
Mr. POSHARD. this is going on?
Administrator GARVEY. That may not be one for alternative dispute resolution. And in fact, not every case would be an appropriate case for alternative dispute resolution. I think both parties have to agree to it.
Without judging any of the cases that have been before the FAA, some might be appropriate for that. I think the goal would be is there a wayand this is really the important thing, not whether it's alternative dispute resolution.
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I think the important question is, is there a way to resolve this quickly? You know, is there way to get on top of this to really resolve it and get back to a productive work environment?
And that may be one tool. It is certainly not a panacea, and it's not one you'd want to use all the time. But it may be one tool that at least we're looking at. And I know that in talking with the Secretary's Office of Civil Rights, talking with Ron, his point often is get in early, try to resolve it quickly.
Your point about something that went on for over a year and sometimes as long as 3 years, that's really what is untenable. And I think that's one of the reasons to look at some of these additional tools.
There may not be an alternative dispute resolution, but let's look at whatever we can.
Mr. POSHARD. Well, I appreciate that. And I'm very hopeful that you take this seriously and, at least in the beginning stages of this, do what is necessary to remove the physical presence of these people from that environment.
Because I think that creates so much stress. I mean, I literally witnessed a couple of these folks having break downs in the situation. I just don't think you can tolerate that.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I don't think it necessarily goes against a person's righta perpetrator's rights if you can at least move them somewhere out of the situation and keep close oversight of their functions from that point on.
Because that's just an intolerable situation for people. And, you know, I don't want usI know things have to be mediated, but that, to me, sounds like an equal standing here right now before us. And I'm not sure, you know, when this sort of thing's going on, that you ought to mediate very long.
Somebody needs to stand accountable pretty quickly. And so timeliness is of the essence in situations like this.
Administrator GARVEY. Good point. Thank you.
Mr. POSHARD. Thank you, ma'am.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Cummings.
Mr. CUMMINGS. Thank you very much, Ms. Garvey, for being here.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you, Mr. Cummings.
Mr. CUMMINGS. One of the things that we saw at Aberdeen was a situation where a lot of young women truly believe that if they complained, that they would be harmed. And this was major, major stuff. And it was only until I think they got a critical massthere's power in numberswere they able to do some things and try to make some corrective action.
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I'm just wonderingand it seems as if that climate had been somethingin other words, there was a climate that allowed that kind of fear to be cultivated. And peopleI think people high up would turn their heads as if it wasn't happening.
It's like my 3-year-old, when Iyou know, we play hide and go seek, and she puts her hand up to her face and she says, ''Daddy, you can't find me.'' But this is not the problem of a 3-year-old. I think that we do that a lot of times too. We see it, but then we put our hands up and say it ain't happening.
And I'm wondering what do we have in place now so that when peoplewhen these ladies have these problems, that they can feel a level of comfort in trying to address them?
And just kind of piggy-backing on some of the things that Mr. Poshard has saidI mean, I just want to make sure that we have an avenue, first of all, that first tier of trying to get this out.
First of all, I think it takes a lot of courage to do that. But, I mean, what's that first layer? Can you talk about that?
Administrator GARVEY. Well, you've raised a very good point, Congressman. I think the issue of retaliation, retribution
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CUMMINGS. Yes.
Administrator GARVEY. if someone makes a comment is certainly something I've heard from some of the employees individually. And it was an issue we raised with the Coast Guard when they talked about their training.
And they said they had to really keep doubling back. Let's go back and see what happened after the fact. And one of the reasons that I'm so intrigued by the idea of an independent board is because a board can do that.
The board can monitor and track both of what has come in, and then also what are the resultswhat has happened along the way, and to make sure that that retaliation does not occur.
And I want to offer a personal comment. And I don't, by any means, mean to suggest that this is the answer. But my own management style is one of meeting and talking to employees. It was a little easier to do at the Highway Department. It was a heck of a lot smaller than the FAA is.
But I am spending a lot of personal time, because I think it's exceedingly important, in small groups and in large groups with the employees. I sat up discussions with the employees at least once a week, and I tried very hard to do it two or three.
And I'm not talking about the senior managers, but I'm talking about the people, you know, who are in the trenches and working. I've learned more than I can tell you.
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But I've learned more in those discussions. And I've gotten great e-mails. And I'm hoping that that kind of openness that I'm suggesting may help deal with some of those issues. Again, it's not the panacea, but I think it's often the tone that's set at the top by the administrator and the senior managers as well.
And I humbly hope I can make a difference in that area.
Mr. CUMMINGS. Well, let me tell you, I certainly applaud you for that. I think that is extremely important. Because one of the things that I've noticed is that a lot of times we will have a new administrator or a new secretary of this or that, but the old system is still in place.
And unless you get past that top layer, the one that's right underneath of you, or maybe the next round and get deep down into the employeeyou know, your grassroots employee base, a lot of times it doesn't get to you.
As a matter of fact, it probably is a situation where I thinkand I've found this to be I felt this at Aberdeen where a lot of the real problems never rose to the top people, not the way it should have.
And I think that kind of avenue that you have created is an extremely important one. And it seems as if you have a zero tolerance attitude also. And I'm sure that will take us a long way to resolving this problem.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Administrator GARVEY. Thank you.
Mr. CUMMINGS. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Cummings.
Mr. DAVIS. Thank you. I just have a couple questions.
You know, the EEO complaint process now is just extremely long. For instance, even though the regulations say that an EEO investigation should take only 180 days, it takes over 214 days on average. You know, why is that, and what can the FAA or DOT do to make the process more streamlined?
Or us; maybe we can make it more streamlined.
Administrator GARVEY. Congressman, that's a very critical question. The backlog is really untenable. We've met with the new civil rights director who seems absolutely intent, on the Secretary's behalf, of really figuring out a way to reduce that backlog.
But I think some of the efforts that we in the individual agencies can take are steps to ensure that those issues are resolved earlier in the process. Part of the reason that the Secretary's office has such a back log is sometimes because we haven't resolved them early on, early in the process.
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And we're sort of looking at ways both through the accountability board that I talked about earlier, the additional training that I've talked about earlier, possibly the use of tools like alternative dispute resolution.
Those are opportunities, I think, to help streamline the process. But I do know that the new director of civil rights has that as a top priority, both how to eliminate the backlog and how to make the process work better.
Mr. DAVIS. Okay. Also, what's the responsibility of the supervisor when he or she notices or is notified that a sexual harassment or discrimination is occurring? Are supervisors given written policy guidelines on what to do if an employee claims he or she has been harassed under their supervision?
Administrator GARVEY. Congressman, supervisors are given written policy guidance. Very early into my administration, I signed asort of a reaffirmation of the policy statement on model work environment, as well as on civil rights.
And that's very important. But, as I said earlier, you know, the policies are the first step. We've got to make sure they're implemented. And we've got to make sure that even at the top levels of management, we're communicating that these policies are to be taken seriously.
So there is written guidance. I think there's more we can do in the area of training to make sure that our supervisors understand it, and we're prepared to do that.
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Mr. DAVIS. Thank you. That's all my questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Davis.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I greatly appreciate the presence of the administrator here today and want to compliment her on the initiatives that she has taken personally, not just directing the FAA staff, to address the problem at hand of harassment.
It's refreshing to see the direct personal attention and involvement and willingness not just by words or written directives, but by personal action. And I think that's coming to be the hallmark of your administration.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Sexual harassment is a highly emotional issue. It is degrading, it is intended to humiliate, to frighten, to intimidate. It is also committed by the cowardly, the ignorant, and often the perverse. But it should not be tolerated.
About 3 years ago, we received reportsdisturbing reports about training the FAA was requiring to sensitize its employees to sexual and racial discrimination issues. Most of the complaints about the training came from those who were doing the training, the ones whom it was supposed to help.
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When our staff confronted the person in charge of FAA human resources at the time, who is no longer with FAA, he said, ''Women are the tools to learning.'' Translated, that says if training makes women feel uncomfortable or degraded, but if it helps men become more sensitive, then training is a success.
In other words, the end justifies the means. That is so shocking, so inappropriate, and so revolting that it has stayed with me. But so also has the ease with which it rolled off his lips.
And I bring that up not because there is a continuation of that practice, not because the practice has been ended, but because the incident occurred at all. That training was taking place in the context of an effort with FAA to change the so-called culture of the Agency.
And the effort to change culture was well intentioned, but the means by which it was carried out were deplorable. Not all of the means. There are some aspects that were very good. But what didn't happen was that there was no message sent to the rank and file of FAA that you have to change your attitudes.
We're putting people through this degrading process. If you read that report of the Inspector General, which is this thick, you would be revolted by the things thatthe practices that were undertaken.
The thrust of all of that was that the education of men is more important than the dignity of women. That a senior manager could have said women are the tools to learning shows how far that person had to go to change his own attitude toward diversity.
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And given that mind set, how could there not be a problem with misconduct toward women in the Agency? We have to eradicate that attitude.
I think your personal commitment will be the way to do it, not sending people off to a school in the south somewheres in a little enclave and running people through degrading processes, but the administrator making it very clear this will not be tolerated.
There will be a new age. There will be a new enlightenment. And a woman is at the head of this Agency, and that's going to change things for women in aviation throughout America.
So with a wide range of problems and failed efforts to resolve those problems through sort of traditional means, I think that the answer is in the most refreshing thing that's happened at the FAA in recent years, and that is an administrator who carries the message, who bears the dignity of women, who bears the message of change and who carries it out.
I think that will be on your watch.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Oberstar follows:]
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Congressman.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar.
Ms. CHRISTIAN-GREEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to being by thanking you and our ranking member for calling this important hearing which sends a message loudly and clearly, the message that we want to send from this Congress, that sexual harassment and gender discrimination will not be tolerated.
And I want to also commend ourmy colleague, Congresswoman Millender-McDonald, for myself and on behalf of the Women's Caucus for her strong and dogged leadership on this issue.
But mostly, I want to commend the employees of the FAA. We know it takes courage to come forward, and we want to thank you and commend you for doing so. And also, for doing the job that you have been doing and keeping our skies safe under what have been, we see, very difficult working conditions.
I'm not sure that I have a question any longer for you, Administrator Garvey. We appreciate your strong testimony and the commitment that you've demonstrated through that testimony. You have quite a challenge ahead to restore the confidence of the employees in thison this issue.
And my question was really given the fact that there were policies and training before you came, what was going to make the difference this time? You've answered it in many ways, and I don'tI would only ask if you had anything to addanything that you may have left out?
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Administrator GARVEY. One comment I would like to add, which is I am looking forward to reading your testimony and appreciate your commitment. And also, meeting firstor personally with the Women's Caucus and exploring this even further and other issues that we'd have a joint interest in.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. EWING. Thank you and welcome.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you very much, Congressman.
Mr. EWING. I'm glad to have you here.
What does the FAA do to make work environment more friendly to women?
Administrator GARVEY. There are a number of ways, Congressman, but let me speak about one. We have a model work environment policy in place. We're hosting a national conference December 2nd for a series of days that managers and employees, that union members will participate in that really deals with a number of work environment issues.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I was talking with the women controllers earlier this morning, and we all agreed, you know, we spend so much time at work, and making it a hospitable and a productive place, I think, is critical for all of us.
But exploring how we deal with harassment issues, exploring how we might even recruit people to this profession and to this Agency that are women, as well as minorities, I think some of those are ways to get at it.
If there's one message that I've heard both from the controllers and the individual employees who are here is the issue of accountability and making sure that we as an Agency take it seriously and hold people accountable for their actions.
Mr. EWING. Do you offer part time work for controllers?
Administrator GARVEY. You know, I'm not sure about that answer, and I wonder if I could get back to you about the part time issue? I will.
Mr. EWING. Certainly.
And what is the percentage of controllers that are women?
Administrator GARVEY. I'm going to give you the percentage of women within the Agency, which is about 23 to close to 24 percent. And within the air traffic control, I know it's less than that 14 percent.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EWING. Are thoseand I know you've been there a very short time, but does your staff know if those are figures that are on thethey're going up, or are they on the decline?
Administrator GARVEY. There is a slight increase I know in air traffic control, which is good news. And I think as we continue to do recruitmentand by the way, I think that's important to note in the context of some of the downsizing that Government has gone through, but I understand the FAA has made a real effort to at least keep that number where it has been.
But I think we have more that we can do. I think a lot of this is about raising the bar and doing an even better job. And I think as we look at recruitment, as we are doing, thinking about ways that we can attract women, thinking about ways that we can mentor young women to encourage them to come into this industry I think is very important.
I've had wonderful discussions with the professional air traffic control women's organization as well as the technical women's organization about how we target women's groups and attract women and minorities into this profession.
Mr. EWING. What would be your sales pitch to bring minorities and women into the FAA? Do you have child care? I mean, what would you think would be your biggest asset?
Administrator GARVEY. Well, you know, in some ways, it's a message that I think even goes beyond gender, which is I don't think there's a more exciting time to be in aviation. We are moving to the 21st Century.
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The Secretary likes to say that ''Aviation will be to the 21st Century what the interstate was to the 20th Century.'' And so I think it's a wonderful opportunity. And when you're in the public sector, you have an ability to affect an agenda in a way that the private sector does not.
So I think it is an extraordinarily exciting time. The industry is strong. We have the support of Congress, an administration that cares about aviation and about these issues. I think as we think about the work place specifically, I think we do offerin fact, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit a brand new day care center in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Beautiful, terrific, state of the art. I wish my kids were young enough to attend. And we do have those opportunities. So I think there's a lot of reason to join the FAA, a lot of reasons to come into this industry.
Mr. EWING. Thank you, Ms. Garvey.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you, Congressman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE. I'd like to thank the Chairman for his kindness in allowing me to sit in and participate. I am not a member of this committee. I am a member of the Judiciary Committee and have great interest in issues dealing with sexual harassment of women employees, particularly in the work place, no matter where it might be, private or public sector.
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I thank the ranking member. And certainly I thank the initiative of Congresswoman Millender-McDonald who showed great interest in this area and certainly with the support of the ranking member, the entire committee, and Chairman of the entire committee, Mr. Oberstar, who is here as the ranking member.
Let me say just a few words, one because we would never want to leave this hearing and give the impression to the traveling public that our skies are unsafe. This is not the intent. So let me welcome you as having that responsibility. And we share in the importancethe singular importance of this hearing to calm the fears of those who may be concerned.
It certainly is my concern, and I'll tell you why in just a moment. I do want to, however, acknowledge Mr. Carl W. Reed from Houston. I am from Houston and represent the 18th Congressional District. And Ms. Julia Avery for their courage and their importance in bringing this to our attention.
And they have my attention, have had it in the past, and I will continue to work with them.
But the real concern, and I have toured the air traffic controller space, and I know it is a very difficult job. As I watched the tunnelwhen I say the tunnel, the no window room. I went into a no window room versus the rooms where they have the windows and those individuals have a certain degree of responsibility and others in the no window room.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And it can getyou can get claustrophobic, and you can get tired. And so it concerns me that there would be several things happening. One, that women are delayed in their training, that they're passed over for improvement or enhancement.
That is frightening to me because one thing that this Nation promises is that we help people fulfill their promise. The other thing that disturbs me is the possibility that I understand where there was a crisis, where there was a shortage of staff and a qualified woman was right there.
That individual was passed over and someone unqualified proceeded to do her duties. I say that because we're also in a debate not only in this committee, in Judiciary, on affirmative action. It is obvious that that is a tool that is well needed still to remedy past discrimination.
But once we do affirmative actionfor example, if we did it really accurately with more than 51 percent women in this Nation, we might have 51 percent air traffic controllers. We have 14 percent. But those 14 percent, Madame Administrator, should be utilized to their fullest.
Can you tell me how you would not only hold accountable, but punish or penalize those who might jeopardize the flying public by ignoring well trained women? How do you get the word to them, and then howwhat is your response of accountability?
What do they get? Do they get a phone call? Are you putting in place some other measures that makes your efforts, I assume, to one, rid us of sexual harassment in the work place, but rid us of ignoring women in the work place and mistreating them on training?
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What are the procedures that are in place that they would know you mean business?
Administrator GARVEY. Let me make two observations. First of all, thank you for reminding us of the safety of the system. And secondly, how difficult the air traffic controller's job is. I think those are points that are worth reinforcing and worth reaffirming, if you will.
On the issue of whether or not a woman is passed over, I think your point about safety is so paramount and so important that we can't afford to not take advantage of all the wonderful resources that we have. I think that's got to be treatedin my view, ought to be treated as other complaints are treated.
It ought to be taken seriously. If that's the case, then we ought to deal with it. And I would certainly hope that the accountability board that I spoke about earlier might offer an independent assessment again of whether the appropriate action is taking place.
So I think that's very, very critical and very important. The issue about whether or not a female employee is working side by side with someone who has similar expertise and adequate expertise is absolutely important.
I mean, the issue of safety cannot be compromised in any way, in anything we do. It is so fundamentally important. There is nothing that's more important, in my view, in Government than dealing with the safety of the American people.
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So all of those are actions that I think must be held accountable and must be taken seriously. What are the appropriate actions are? Without going case by case, I think, again, you have to look at a range of actions.
I have asked our staff to take another look at whether or not we are assigning the right kind of action to each response. I know there is a sort of chart that people use to make a determination, and I know it's based on what's done in other Government agencies.
But I think it's worth looking at again. Let's be sure we're matching the right action to the appropriate offense, if you will.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE. I thank the Chairman very much for his kindness.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I want to say that I think all the questions that have been asked and all the statements that have been made this morning are extremely important. And this is obviously an enormously important topic that we are discussing.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think you, as the administrator, have a golden opportunity to correct the situation that I really believe has existed for quite a while at the FAA. There are those who say it's because it's such a dominated culture by white males out of the military.
I don't know if that's true or if it isn't true. I'm not going to cast any dispersions certainly on white males or the military here. But there is no question that there is a problem and a very serious problem. I think we are very fortunate to have you as the administrator at this time to correct that problem.
By the same token, you have a lot of other duties at the FAA also. I want you to correct that problem. It shouldn't exist. It should be corrected as quickly as possible. But you have to make sure that you don't devote all your time just to correcting this particular problem.
Because, as we have stated in numerous hearings here and mark ups here, you have a number of other problems in the FAA also that have to be corrected. And I guess I say all of this because youI said you have a unique opportunity, but you really have an enormous challenge to resolve so many of these problems that are facing the FAA.
This committee, the subcommittee, I'm sure the full committee under Mr. Shuster and Mr. Oberstar, certainly stand side by side with you to aid you and to assist you in resolving many of these problems that exist.
The flip side of that though is that the spotlight is really going to be on you, so you unfortunately cannot afford many missteps at all, and you have to be aware of that. So you have a great challenge, but I think we are here to aid and assist you.
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I think you are perfectly capable of meeting that challenge. I wish you luck. I know you have to move on, so I'm not going to ask you any questions. I'll simply turn it back to the Chairman. If you have any comments on what I had to say, you're certainly free to comment upon that.
Administrator GARVEY. Well, and I know in the interest of time, let me just say thank you. And I do appreciateand I have sensed both personally and very directly the kind of support that this committee has offered to me and to the Secretary.
I'm enormously grateful for that. Challenges are enormous. I will not, I hope, let you down, or the American people down. I take the whole job very seriously. It's not an easy one. That, I know.
Mr. DUNCAN. Ms. Garvey, we said we were going to get you out of here by noon so you could catch your plane or whatever, and so we're going to let you go.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will say I would like to hear the women controllers, so I'm going to run late for that plane.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay.
Administrator GARVEY. Do you think I might have any sway in that?
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Mr. DUNCAN. I don't know.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. You're in charge.
Mr. DUNCAN. Probably very little.
Thank you very, very much for being with us.
Mrs. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you.
Administrator GARVEY. Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, we'll call up the next panel at this time.
I would like to welcome the second panel, panel number 2, and this will be the concluding panel today. We have five witnesses on this panel. We have Ms. Joan M. Henson who is an Air Traffic Control Specialist from Atlanta; Mr. Carl W. Reed who is Operational Supervisor of the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center; Ms. Julia Avery who is an Air Traffic Control Specialist at the Houston Center; Ms. Jan Vera Gonzales who is a Class Agent at the John Wayne Tower; and Mr. Michael McNally who is President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
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Ladies and gentlemen, we're pleased to have you with us. And the policy that we follow on this subcommittee is that we proceed as the witnesses are listed in the call of the hearing. And that means that Ms. Henson would go first and then Mr. Reed and we'll just proceedI think you're seated in that orderand so we'll just go right down the line.
Ms. Henson, you may proceedexcuse me one minute; I almost forgot. We are honored to have Kevin Brady with us today, and Congressman Brady does not sit on this subcommittee but I'm very grateful that he took time out from his busy schedule to be here with us. And I believe that one or more of your constituents are here Kevin, and I'd like to allow you to make any statements you wish to at this time, and directly introduce your constituents.
Mr. BRADY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to sit in on this, and I doMr. Reed and Ms. Avery are a part of our district, 8th Congressional District abuts Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, and I have many of my constituents who work in the Air Traffic Control Center and Traffic Center.
And all I would do is respectfully urge the committee to their testimony. As a freshman, if someone would have told me that the most serious complaints we would receive in our district after the IRS, from constituents would be about the FAA, I would have never believed them. But not only are there serious complaints, there are at least eight that I'm very familiar with, if not more.
And what disturbs me more, Mr. Chairman, is the length of time it takes as we talked about earlier, to get some resolution to them: to have investigations conducted, closed, and some type of fairness brought to the system. And I know that you or I would not want to wait nearly 5 yearswe're coming up onbefore we get some kind of response to our problem.
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And I'm hopeful thatam really, truly appreciative of you calling this hearing so that whether it is to protect those that have a complaint or those who are complained against, some fair process in a timely manner that brings some resolution we have simply got to have.
So I appreciate you allowing me to be here; I appreciate Mr. Reed and Ms. Avery being here today. We have a number of other constituents with similar complaints in the audience, and others who couldn't be with us.
So thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Brady. Ms. Henson, you may begin your testimony.
TESTIMONY OF JOAN M. HENSON, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SPECIALIST, ATLANTA, GA; CARL W. REED, OPERATIONAL SUPERVISOR, HOUSTON AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER, HOUSTON, TX; JULIA AVERY, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SPECIALIST, HOUSTON AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CENTER; JAN VERA GONZALES, CLASS AGENT, JOHN WAYNE TOWER; MICHAEL McNALLY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION; AND WENDI SELLERS
Ms. HENSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and esteemed members of the subcommittee, my name is Joan Henson. I am employed by the FAA as an air traffic controller at the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center. I am here today to comment on the incredible waste of valuable expertise and of actual dollars that is resulting from the FAA's failure to address and remedy episodes of gender discrimination and harassment that exist in our workplaces.
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In December 1996, I was stalked by an anonymous co-worker who left a series of three letters on and in my vehicle, in a secure parking area limited only to FAA employees. The tenor of the letters was such that I felt the author may be compelled to take some action to physically or sexually assault me. I immediately notified my managers and feared for my safety. I asked them to fingerprint the letters and obtain handwriting samples to identify the perpetrator.
Within a week I observed that sufficient proactive measures had not been initiated by my local facility management. I requested the investigation be forwarded to the regional Security and Compliance Office. The head of the Southern Regional Security stated that because the letters were not overtly threatening in nature, no crime had been committed.
I was stunned when he claimed his office could not get involved. I felt extremely threatened because in my opinion, this nameless employee was attempting to initiate a sexual relationship with me.
I went to work each day terrified of this anonymous individual who claimed he had been watching me for years; he had fantasized about me during sex with his wife. He said he felt it best he remain unnamed to avoid both disgracing himself and the pain of my rejection.
For three weeks, regrettably, FAA management did virtually nothing to investigate my concerns. I telephoned the Employee's Assistance Program to seek a counseling referral; they offered little help. I called the FAA Sexual Harassment Help Line; they would not help.
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Ultimately, I went to my local police authority who initiated an investigation that led to the identity of the stalker, who later admitted authoring these highly offensive notes.
In April 1997, I returned to work and was severely retaliated against by my facility management. I was told by my area manager that I was not to discuss the details of the situation with anyone, and he implied I could be reprimanded for creating a hostile work environment if I did so. He said my presence in the control room was a distraction to other employees.
I was interrogated and lied to by an FAA investigator. Then I learned that the perpetrator was allowed to return to the same facility where I worked. Subsequently, I spent over two weeks in an intensive, outpatient, group therapy program. I have not returned to work since.
At the taxpayer's expense I am currently on temporary disability, but only after going nearly 4 months without a paycheck and exhausting all of my leave. Meanwhile, the stalker has merely been transferred and received 14 days off without pay as reprimand for his blatant acts of sexual harassment. Ironically, both female members of management who failed to initiate any investigation into my complaint, have both been promoted.
Unfortunately, other women within the FAA have experienced even more horrific scenarios of harassment than I. Many of them are also out of work, either on disability, in a non-pay status, or have been fired or quit because they filed EEO complaints or a scarlet letter, as I refer to it.
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In one incident, a female controller at Lambert Field in St. Louis was recently fired because she complained to FAA management of a male co-worker who stalked her, terrorized her, went to her home and tried to rape her.
A woman at Los Angeles Center complained about sexually explicit posters that were put up in her workplace. After complaining to her management, she was treated with considerable hostility by her co-workers. While on maternity leave, a dead rat was mailed to her home; she was threatened not to return to work. She's been on leave without pay for 18 months.
Taxpayers spent millions of dollars turning myself, these, and many others, fully certified, highly competent women, to perform the very exact science of air traffic control. The FAA does not necessarily need to hire more women; I think they would be better served by resolving these women's issues and putting them back to work.
Taxpayers are footing the bill for numerous disability claims because of the FAA's documented practice of retaliation and/or indifference of anyone who makes a complaint. They make life so unbearable for the complainant, any small settlement offer seems worth taking just to resume some semblance of normalcy to your life by returning to work.
However, when you return, the harassment continues because no real remedies are ever implemented. The vicious cycle goes on and on. Each year, large sums of taxpayer dollars are spent processing, litigating, and settling EEO complaints of gender discrimination and harassment. Many complainants accept inadequate settlement offers out of court with no admission of guilt or responsibility on the part of the FAA.
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It is time the FAA is held accountable for this abuse of funds being spent due to the lack of concern for their own employee's civil rights. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this opportunity to speak; members of this subcommittee, thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. REED. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of this committee. My name is Carl Reed. I've been an air traffic controller with the FAA for 22 years, including 9 years as an operational supervisor.
I'm motivated to be here for several reasons. The first and foremost is the fact that my youngest daughter has expressed a desire to become an air traffic controller. My dilemma is, as proud as I am to be an air traffic controller, under the current working atmosphere and culture I simply cannot encourage her to choose a career with the FAA.
Gender-based discrimination is pervasive in this agency. Acts of blatant sexual harassment to a great degree, are condoned. I have witnessed a supervisor place his arm on the shoulder of a female controller and with his free hand, unbutton the top button of her blouse and pull it open while stating, ''Let me see what's in here''.
The harmful and hurtful nature of these acts is extremely devastating to those that must endure them. It's apparent to me that the agency has embraced a philosophy that provides fertile ground for these unlawful acts to occur.
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More often than not, when management is made aware of a problem in the area of sexual harassment, their initial response is, ''Sounds like a personal problem to me'', and I've heard this far too often.
The most insidious part about all of what occurs after a female complains, whether it is gender-based discrimination or blatant and overt sexual harassment, is inconsequential as far as the agency is concerned. One thing that is virtually guaranteed: that person will be retaliated against in some manner.
The truly sad and incomprehensible part about this is that the FAA does not recognize what reprisal or retaliation is; they simply deny it occurs. The fact of the matter is that FAA management is the greatest perpetrator of reprisal and retaliation in the agency.
When a person comes forth with a complaint, the reprisal commences almost immediately. Without even an investigation into the matter, management's initial response is generally to move the complainer to a less desirable work area, thus giving the appearance that the complainant is a troublemaker and achieving the desired effect of silencing others that may wish to come forward.
All of this was not very apparent to me until I was identified as a witness in a sexual harassment complaint against several second-level managers. I was retaliated against by management at Houston Center for my willingness to cooperate with an EEO investigation, and my support of the complainant. I was threatened with the loss of my livelihood. My performance appraisal was diluted, and critical information was withheld from me in an effort to make me fail in my job.
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Retaliation by FAA management is commonplace. There is an incentive for them to operate in this manner. It serves notice to others not to complain. This keeps the number of complaints low and thusly, management is rewarded for giving the appearance of a good record in the EEO and diversity arena. Ultimately, it also means they don't have to take action, particularly against one of their own.
In addition to management committing acts of reprisal, they are guilty of tacitly approving the workforce to cultivate a hostile work environment toward anyone that complains or is supportive of a complainant. The workforce will engage in ostracizing the complainant or anyone that support them or the basis of their complaint.
Please comprehend that safety is an issue here. For an air traffic controller to be successful they need the cooperation of those around them. If critical information is intentionally withheld it could compromise that safety and potentially the separation of aircraft.
Upon being threatened with the loss of my livelihood, I felt compelled to seek legal representation. After being advised by my attorney what legally constitutes reprisal or retaliation, I then realized that I had been engaging in acts of retaliation and reprisal as a representation of management.
I was ordered by my supervisor to stay away from one lady that had filed a sexual harassment complaint. This was an attempt by management at Houston Center to ostracize this person. By cooperating with this order I would be committing an unlawful act.
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In an effort to diagnose or analyze where I acquired my ability or trait to retaliate, I could only come up with one reasonable answer: I was trained by the FAA. Retaliation or reprisal by management is not limited to the area of sexual harassment.
In a recent all-supervisor's meeting, one female employee who had recently filed a discrimination complaint based on her gender, was referred to as a disgruntled employee. She repeatedly attempted to resolve a matter through her supervisor. The discouraging thing in all of this is she simply wanted assistance from her supervisor on a career development plan.
She had aspirations. After filing a complaint, it is assured that the only career moves she will make will be in reverse. In the presence of virtually every management representative in the facility, including the manager and the assistant manager, he just convicted this conscientious young lady. Her supervisor has already started down the path of retaliation. He was trained to do that.
It may take her an entire career to overcome that label. Most of these women report to work and attempt to perform an extremely stressful job under even more stressful conditions. The hostile work environment is everpresent with supervisors and co-workers that despise their presence and are seizing upon every opportunity to unjustly criticize their performance and second-guess their judgment. It is a climate that is intended for failure.
Why should these highly trained and technically skilled women be forced out of a happy and productive career? To lose any employee due to an act of discrimination of the employer, particularly a Federal agency, is unacceptablenot to mention quite costly to the taxpayers.
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The FAA claims that its people are its most valuable asset. Are not these women people, too?
Mr. DUNCAN. Ms. Avery.
Ms. AVERY. Members of the subcommittee, thank you for allowing us to voice our concerns today. My name is Julia Avery. I have encountered discrimination since the first phase of my training at Houston Center. Discrimination affects everyone, even the safety of passengers on aircraft.
This event happened recently. We had severe weather all day in Houston Center's airspace. All aircraft had to enter and exit Houston approach through the area that I work. Two male air traffic controllers were working the sequencing sector when they asked for a tracker. Asking for a tracker means they need another controller to make sure the aircraft stay away from each other.
I was working as an assistant, ready to work where I was needed. My supervisor, who has not even been certified to work aircraft in that area, sat down and worked as a tracker at an overloaded sector. This is a clear violation of the rules we are to follow.
The supervisor has indicated that he has no confidence in my abilities to work this sector, although I am certified to work every sector in the area that I am assigned, including the sector in question. I knew when this happened that I could no longer keep quiet about the safety issues that are raised due to unfair treatment of females and keep a clear conscience.
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Supervisors are required to work eight hours a month on the sector of their choosing. Supervisors generally select the sector that has the least amount of traffic and then they work the sector when the air traffic is very light.
This brings me to another point about the way trainees are certified to work air traffic. How does the supervisor know when trainees are proficient enough to work air traffic alone? The supervisors go around asking fellow controllers. If the supervisor asks a male controller who really doesn't feel that women belong in the workforce, what is he going to say?
A job that you need to be very skilled at comes down to what is said about you since the supervisor most likely has never worked the sector. Becoming an air traffic controller is often subjective and not based on actual skill.
This incident happened recently at Houston Center. Two male controllers were working a very busy sector due to weather in the area. A female controller who had filed an EEO complaint naming her supervisor as the offender for sexual harassment and discrimination, arrived for the midnight shift.
Her supervisor told her in an unprofessional manner to tear flight data strips off the printer. During this time, a private jet lost its engines over the swamps of Louisiana. The private jet would be better served in this emergency by an approach control, since they know the airports and the terrain of the area.
Being alert to the situation, the female controller initiated coordination with an adjacent area that routinely works with a nearby approach control. Her supervisor heard the female controller trying to get help for the aircraft. She received a frequency for the approach control and gave it to the assistant controller.
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The supervisor overrode the frequency the female controller told them, and gave the radar controller the wrong frequency to relay to the pilot. The pilot went to the incorrect frequency then returned to the two controllers. The supervisor again insisted on using the wrong frequency.
The assistant controller told the radar controller to give the pilot both frequencies. It was too late. The pilot was losing altitude and could not hear the controller. The pilot finally went over to an emergency frequency and reached a controller who helped him land safely.
The supervisor was too busy trying to make the female controller look bad and incompetent that he put the passengers lives on the line by ignoring the coordination the female controller had initiated.
The person who vocalizes a gender-based issue in the control room is generally ostracized. This happens not only to women but also the men that stand up and say that women are being treated differently. Every claim of bias affects the teamwork that controllers need but seldom get, once complaints are voiced.
No one can perform their job effectively knowing they are constantly being watched by someone waiting for them to make a mistake. It is extremely difficult to separate airplanes while being harassed.
Oftentimes, our co-workers will try to set us up for errors. A set-up is the equivalent of a staged traffic accident. The victim has very little time to take corrective action. How do you know if you've ever been on an aircraft that was part of a set-up? This does nothing but create even more tension in an already tense environment.
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Females are left no choice but fight or flight. Therefore, we either have women quitting their jobs they have trained for years to perform at a great deal of taxpayer expense, or multitudes of EEO complaints which are also very costly to the taxpayers.
Air traffic controllers are crucial to the national security, the economy, and most importantly, to the men, women, and children who travel every day on aircraft that have placed their lives in our hands. We cannot let gender-based harassment and discrimination get in the way of anyone's safety.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Ms. GONZALES. I am honored to be able to testify today before you, the Aviation Subcommittee. I would especially like to thank Congresswoman Millender-McDonald for her support and concerns.
I'm Jan Gonzales. I've been an air traffic controller for 20 years, including a 2-year enlistment with the United States Army. Throughout my career I've received very different treatment in training and assignments as compared to male air traffic controllers. This has caused me to be held back in preferred assignments and promotions.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Eventually I moved up to a GS-13 position in a Level 4 tower. Along the way I've endured long years of sexual harassment and discrimination. When I complained the harassers were not affected at all. Some offenders were given promotional transfers. Certainly nothing was done to hold offenders or our managers accountable to deter future harassment.
After I found out this was happening to female air traffic controllers all over the country, I filed a class action complaint late last year. Since then, over 175 female and a few male air traffic controllers, have contacted my law firm to confirm that gender discrimination and sexual harassment of female air traffic control does exist all over the country, and more are calling every week.
When you consider that the estimated total number of men and women in towers and centers is only 1,400 we are already a significant percentage of female controllers. Despite many EEO complaints in my class action, management has done nothing to promptly investigate sexual harassment, hostile work environment for women, and reprisal against those who have the courage to complain.
Management has not taken effective steps to change the predominantly male culture in the FAA, particular in air traffic control. Ignoring the problem will ensure its growth. Nothing will change if the agency does not make a clear stand against harassment. If the harassers in management are not disciplined or fired, nothing will change.
As you've seen in the news, the military is now attempting to eliminate sexual harassment and a hostile work environment for women. It's not doing so by reissuing old policies or simply mandating sensitivity training. It's court martialing and reducing the ranking of offenders.
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Not only are offenders held accountable, but so are managers who fail to investigate and stop such harassment. This action is stopping the careers of the offenders and poor managers. In doing this, the military has been successful in convincing women that it's safe to come forward and complain.
It's a step in the right direction. It's the only way the message can be clearly delivered that sexual harassment and hostile work environment for women is not acceptable. Again, nothing will change unless offenders are held accountable and women feel safe in coming forward to reveal these horrible abuses.
The air traffic controllers present at this table today and in the audience are part of a highly trained group of professionals that help ensure the safety of the flying public. To be effective we must be able to concentrate on the tasks and work in teams. Offensive sexual conduct, demeaning jokes, abusive treatment of women in the control towers and radar centers, reduce the margin of safety because its conduct is a distraction and it destroys teamwork.
This should never be tolerated in any profession, but in our profession it creates an unnecessary and unacceptable risk. The Aviation Subcommittee on behalf of the public, must take steps to ensure the greatest margin of safety in air transportation.
In recent years the FAA has paid attention to maintenance of the aircraft and training of flight crews. Now it's time to transition air traffic control from a traditionally male-dominated culture to a professional that values ability and dedication, not just the old-boy network.
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I recommend three ways to eradicate EEO complaints, sexual harassment and hostile work environment for female air traffic controllers. Number one, do not let the FAA run the employee EEO complaint process. Number two, make personnel and diversity management skills a core competency for all supervisory jobs. Three, promptly investigate complaints of sexual harassment and hostility towards women and take immediate and effective steps to make this misconduct stop.
Make it clear by management's actions, written policies, and disciplinary action that the agency truly has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination. Also, I'd like to quote out of the Administrator's Fact Book, July 19, 1997. The total number of women, female controllers in towers and centers are 1,794, which leaves us at approximately 9 percent of female air traffic controllers.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. We're not gong to have timeI was hoping we could get Mr. McNally's statement in but we won't have time to do that at this time. We'll have to break to go for a vote, so we'll be in recess for a few minutes.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Mr. Chairman, please advise the female air traffic controllers that we will be returning, because we do want to address some of the issues that you have presented to us. We shall return shortly.
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, thank you.
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Ms. BROWN. Mr. Chairman, I just want to take a second to thank you for holding this hearing, and I would like to submit my comments to the record.
Mr. DUNCAN. Sure. That's fine. Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let's go ahead and proceed now, once again with the hearing. And at this time we'll call on Mr. McNally. Let's wait just a moment until everybody gets back in and gets settled so there won't be any noise.
All right. Mr. McNally, you may proceed with your statement.
Mr. MCNALLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee. But before I go forward with my formal statement I just wish to express that this is a testimony of a historical perspective, so in no way, shape, fashion, or form am I alluding to any responsibility beared by our new administrator, Jane Garvey, as she is new. I, myself am newone week into my positionbut I do look forward to working with her and other groups within the FAA to try to resolve these issues, hopefully in a more meaningful fashion in the future.
NATCA appreciates the opportunity to state for the record our position on sexual harassment, and for that matter, any type of overt or subtle discrimination. We also hope to shed light on the FAA work environment across the country whose tone is set, in large part, by the agency at the highest levels.
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We also hope this hearing will jump-start our efforts of many years to provide effective, credible awareness of these issues throughout the nearly 400 air traffic control facilities national-wide. However, regardless of the outcome of these hearings, NATCA is moving forward with our own training initiative. I intend to speak to this at the end of this testimony.
My remarks today avoid going into specifics of the current, nationally publicized, class action sexual harassment case filed by several female controllers. Because NATCA is not involved in the litigation, we are not privy to details of allegations or their circumstances.
However, the EEOC is the correct forum for federal employees when sexual harassment claims are made because it has teeth and a way to provide remedy. As a union, NATCA is also limited by the scope of the law. Under Title 7the language governing the EEO process and EEOCunions have no advocacy role.
We cannot participate in the hearings; furthermore, if we do attempt to do such, just to even be flies-on-a-wall status, in a nutshell, NATCA hands are tied. We are rejected each time we attempt to get involved.
Because NATCA is severely limited or outright prohibited from involvement in sexual harassment and discrimination cases once filed under EEO, we do not have an internal mechanism to investigate these types of claims. Without sufficient personnel or standardized processes to investigate and ways to fairly evaluate complaints, NATCA cannot take on the role of arbitrator and judge.
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We are left with little choice but to refer all claims related to sexual harassment and discrimination to the agency's EEO office.
While it is not proper for NATCA to comment on the pending sexual harassment case, it is appropriate we discuss these highly charged issues here today, because they have an enormous bearing on our 14,343 air traffic controllers, and the nation as a whole.
First, in a productive and healthy workplace, management-employee trust is necessary to solve problems, get work done and plan for future needs. When the employerin this case, the FAAinstead breeds a workforce divided along racial, ethnic and gender lines, then that essential bond is breached.
From NATCA's point of view, the bond was breached years ago. In the early 1980s when I first joined the controller ranks, I was only aware of a sexual harassment and diversity policy statement. Nothing has really changed to this date.
While the public was first learning of FAA's trainingand I'm using the word quite looselycontrollers and other FAA employees had long scoffed at outside trainers. Cult trainer Gregory May consulted a spiritI think the name is Rantha, sirapparently he told him to tie participants up for hours, forcing them to go with each other to the bathroom and even sleep together.
It was absurd that consultant Louise Eberhart was allowed to run employees through the gauntlet where men and women touched, groped, essentially did whatever they wanted to the victim, all in the name of sensitivity training. It was shameful that FAA employees were hospitalized because of the trauma induced by these closed-door incidents; that individuals suffered breakdowns; and that families were involved in recovery programs, sometimes for years after the fact.
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As the only legal entity able to negotiate with the FAA on these types of employee issues, NATCA had, and still has, a responsibility to pursue the most beneficial, behavior changing programs. We do this on behalf of all controllers, regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation.
NATCA in 1992, well before the 1995 Doug Hartman gauntlet case, filed an unfair labor practice against the FAA with the Federal Labor Relations Authority. We cited FAA's failure to bargain in good faith with us over the impact and implementation of the agency's cultural diversity training back then.
Based on NATCA's action with the FLRA and not because of any resolve on the FAA's part, the agency agreed to a joint NATCA/FAA EEO Committee. It was formed to develop and implement a diversity training program that would meet employee's needs.
In 1994, 2 years after our initial unfair labor practice with the FLRA, the committee's work began. From the outset, the committee fully supported a well thought-out training program. So far sounds good, right?
Wrong. The committee, believing it had the backing of the FAA, developed a needs assessment module including 12 focus groups. From information gathered during these candid discussions with randomly selected employees, phase two was to begin. This phase would have resulted in actual development of a diversity awareness program tailored to FAA's workforce.
Ready to move forward, the NATCA/FAA EEO Committee expected funding for the program. I'm sitting here today and can tell you not one cent has been allocated for a comprehensive, effective training or public awareness initiative that would have meaning in the controller and FAA employee workforce. The information sits in a desk drawer somewhere collecting dust; money, time, and effort wasted. FAA dropped the ball.
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Until guess when? A few months ago when the USA Today story appeared, reporting sexual harassment in the air traffic control system. We received a call from the FAA asking if NATCA could start up again. Our response was: where have you been?
The publicity comes. FAA responds by saying, ''we're all better now''. Reporters don't follow up to see what's really going on when the story dies down. FAA knows this. When the spotlight dims, any efforts to solve the problem are swept under the proverbial FAA rug.
This is reminiscent of the infamous Gregory May and Louise Eberhart days when negative publicity prompted the FAA to tell the media it had modified training. In reality, FAA was providing no meaningful training about diversity and sexual harassment in the workplace.
We have 14,000 men and women of all races and cultural background in the controller workforce. If any programs were underway, believe me, we'd know it. To say we do not trust the FAA on this issue is an understatement.
Having said that, I will say that NATCA is ready to make a commitment today, and I believe certainly, the administrator as well. We will keep our promise. NATCA has a very long history of pushing the FAA toward meaningful, effective employee programs about diversity, discrimination and sexual harassmentwell documented, I might add.
When the media's glare is on the FAA the agency puts on its white hat, nods and smiles for the cameras. The viewer is left believing all is right with the world.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Just to demonstrate how ludicrous these claims are, you cannot find a succinct definition of cultural diversity in the entire agency. At the moment, everything is lumped into diversity: cultural, social, sexual, whatever can't be placed into another category. Many of the problems associated with poor diversity training may be traced back to a lack of consensus as to the definition and the ways in which diversity initiatives should be put into practice.
Squaring the abstract with the applied, actual definition is a critical first stepone the agency has yet to take. The FAA has no mission statement that focuses on workplace diversity or sexual harassment. It has accumulated a hodgepodge of previous statements calling it a policy.
When the agency defends its diversity and sensitivity training programs, I wonder what it is that's being defended.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. McNally, you've run way over your time, so I want you to go
Mr. MCNALLY. I will cut it short, sir, and I'll just say that what we'd like to do is offer this committee as well as the agency, whatever we can in order to address issues of sexual harassment and diversity in the workplace.
And I'll end my statement there. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you very much, and your full statement will be placed in the record. And I can say I'm especially pleased that you mentioned that because my memory was not clear on that. You know, they had this training and it sounds good to say sensitivity training and cultural diversity training, but to tie people up together and to make people go to the bathroom together, and to make them run gauntlets, and make them describe, you know, all these thingsthey put people through horrible experiences, and all I'm sayingall I was trying to say a while ago was that if they do some of this training in the future I sure hope they won't get into these new-age spiritsRantha, was that the name?
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Mr. MCNALLY. Rantha, yes sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. I mean, they got into some really crazy stuff. And if that happens again I can tell you, we'll do everything possible to fight that.
Now, Mr. Costello has requested that one of his constituents be added to this panel, so I'm going to let Mr. Costello introduce her, and ma'am where is your
Mr. COSTELLO. Wendi, would you come forward, please?
Mr. DUNCAN. Just have a seat, and Mr. Costello, you introduce her for the record, please.
Mr. COSTELLO. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I'd like to thank you and the Ranking Member, Mr. Lipinski, for adding this witness to the panel. Wendi Sellers was an air traffic controller for over 10 years; most recently working at the St. Louis International Airport until she was terminated by the FAA just a few weeks ago.
She was not scheduled to testify todayin fact, she submitted her statement for the recordbut in view of the testimony that we have heard, I thought it would be appropriate for this committee and its members to hear her testimony. I think you will find it, not only most interesting, but shocking.
With that, Wendi Sellers, if you wouldand Mr. Chairman, if you would call on Ms. Sellers to offer her testimony.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Costello follows:]
Mr. DUNCAN. Ms. Sellers, you may proceed with your testimony. I will, as I've done with others, hold you very strictly to the time limit, so you may have to summarize some of it. But you may proceed with your testimony.
Ms. SELLERS. I understand, and thank you very much, Congressman Costello and the committee for allowing me to address this congressional committee with my written statement.
I had been an air traffic controller for 10-plus years before being fired by the FAA for not continuing to work in a hostile work environment. When I began with the FAA it was not just for a paycheck, but for a career. I loved the challenge and complexity of my job and desired to move into supervision.
I realized my position was in an environment made mostly of men, but this did not deter me. How bad could it be, I reasoned. I spent 6 1/2 years as a content controller at another facility moving airplanes, eventually becoming a pilot, and enjoyed donating my time to aviation-related and educational FAA-geared activities.
I was promoted to St. Louis air traffic control tower in July 1993. My training was successful and positive. I was very happy to have earned my way into working at such a busy and complex airport1 of the 10 busiest airports in the nation.
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In September 1995, I found myself having to file my first EEO complaint against my supervisor of only 6 months. The basis of my filing was due to crude comments he made such as, ''get your head out of your ass'', calling me a ''piece of fluff'' in front of others, and slamming workstrips in front of me while I was working live traffic.
This would occur before my co-workers and was incredibly humiliating and degrading. Another sexual cartoon made its way up on the Union bulletin board about me. When I asked angrily who was doing this to me and why, a male co-worker answered, ''We wouldn't do this to you if we didn't like you, Wendi.'' I informed management immediately and never received feedback on what they did, if anything.
Immediately after signing this informally-resolved EEO complaint, I walked to my locker for the first time that day. I found yet another cartoon taped to my locker that mocked my professional ability with a newspaper headline printed, ''Wendi's control failures raise concerns about a possible near-miss''.
I brought management and a union representative immediately to my locker. Management personally removed the taunting cartoon and sent me home because I was crying so hard. I received no feedback from management regarding this incident.
From March to August 1996, a married, male co-worker who I had spoken to a few times before began to sexually harass me. Included in this timeframe I was subjected to unwanted phone calls at my home requesting dates sexual encounters.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The harasser called me during late night shifts while I tried to work traffic, requesting dates and visits. He greeted me more than once at work with, ''hi chick''. He wrote me seven poems, unwanted and graphic in nature, placed them into my locker all at once. He wrote me a letter I never asked for, describing how he longed to be with me, ''feeling your breasts gently brushing against my chest while your legs would wind around mine''.
The harasser showed up unwanted at my house and sexually assaulted me. The harasser pinched my rear at work and told me to sh-hh when I slapped his hand away and told him to stop it. During this time I asked a male co-worker to intervene. He did not want to become involved and felt the issue would go away.
I spoke to three other co-workers early-on for other ideas to stop him. I placed a Federal Sexual Harassment document in his locker in hopes of stopping his pursuance. I said no to his advances, asked my supervisor for guidance. He told me to have a ''stern talk with him'' and ''threaten to report him'' if he ever comes near me again.
Even though I had done this before, I did this again. When the harasser telephoned my home four times within 30 minutes after this situation, I answered the last call. It was for a request to ''come swim in my pool but leave your swimsuit at home.'' I immediately reported him to management on sexual harassment charges after this time.
Management denied my request for a face-to-face meeting with him, me, our supervisors, and management officials because we had to ''protect his privacy.'' When the harasser was confronted he did not deny these charges. Management apparently accepted this as a response, coupled with his comment as to why all of these acts occurredwe'd been having a consensual affair, he alleged.
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Management never came back to me to ask further questions or verify this information. The FAA's so-called zero tolerance policy is alive on paper only and offers a complainant no protection. Management did not reprimand the harasser with the proper penalties, management concealed several of my charges from the region who suggests discipline based upon what they know.
After filing my EEO complaint, retaliation became unbearable. Co-workers walked out of rooms when I walked in, a sexual mug was put in my locker, I received an anonymous sexual harassment flier in my locker, I learned the harasser was planning to hire a private detective. My locker was broken into
Mr. LIPINSKI. [presiding] Excuse me, Wendi. I have to interrupt you because your time is up. I'll give you 20 seconds to summarize and then we have to move on here.
Ms. SELLERS. I'm here to tell you that after you file an EEO complaint the retaliation is unbearable. After 5 months of consistently telling my supervisor I was losing focus at work, I had an operational error in which two airplanes came too close together.
I was removed from my post of operation and due to the stressfullness of trying to safely move traffic while coping with sexual harassment on my job. I did not ever go back and work traffic. I was kicked out of my facility because my management told me I had no work there to do. The combinations were changed. I was not given the new combination, and I was told I would be escorted into the facility at all times.
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This has continued. I have been fired because I will not return to the facility. I've asked for sick leave; they've denied it. I've asked for leave without pay; they've denied it. I've asked for a transfer; they've denied it.
That's my statement.
Mr. LIPINSKI. [presiding] Thank you very much. Go right ahead.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Ranking Member, and again, let me thank you for deferring to me because I know that you have a lot of burning questions yourself.
But before I really get into this, let me ask any other air traffic controllers who are in the audience who was unable to speak who are here in support, would you just stand? Other air traffic controllers who are in the audience?
We thank you so much for coming to give support and lend support to those who were able to testify this morning, and thank you.
I'd like to first thank Ms. Jane Gonzales for your courage, your determination to expose some of the very egregious and degrading actions and acts that seem to have taken place in a workplace that should be conducive to quality and protection for workers. I commend you for coming forward and exposing the issues that we have now heard today.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Reed, I thank you, because there has to be the sensitive men who come forward with these outstanding women who are professionals, to come forth and testify and tell the story. Because ofttimes when it's only women, regrettably to say, people tend to think the stories are skewed.
But when a man or men come forward then perhaps they will listen. And so we thank you for coming to share the same types of egregious acts that these women have testified today.
We thank the rest of you because it was not until I read that issue and my legislative director saw the issue, that I then became involved in this. But as I have now listened to you and your very passionate testimonies of what have taken place, there's no doubt in my mind that something is wrong, and something needs to be corrected.
I have noted everything you have said, just about, and have two staffers behind me who are noting perhaps stuff that I have not. We must get down to this issue. I only fear that there are other women groups out there who are working in non-traditional careers who are having the same types of problems.
And I submit to you and Mr. Chairman, that I am going to write every women group, every female group the flight attendantseveryone else whom I think is affiliated with aviation, to have them to come forth if indeed, they are having these same types of problems.
I for one, who served on this committee as a female, will not tolerate sitting down, allowing women to be subjected to these types of work environments. It is absolutely the most ridiculous, degrading thing I have heard. I am absolutely upset about what I've heard, but I'm willing to fight with you, because this fight must continue until we have remedied all of the types of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and all other discriminations that are going about in these workplaces.
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We would not know about this if you didn't come before us, because we do have a myriad of things that we are doing in this House of Representative. But do know that the 52 women who serve in this House are equally as concerned as I am, and certainly will be the force with me to fight to ensure that women have a quality workplace, one that is without hostile environments such as you've had, one that is without the degradation that you have had to suffer, the hostility, the intimidation, the fear.
And to think that some of you have had to be dismissed on your jobs, are unpaid, when so-called, these perpetrators are being promoted. That is the most unconscionable thing I have heard.
I submit to you Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking Member, I will be asking for a report from the FAA in 30 days to see what they are beginning to do to try to start moving in a direction for the remedies and the answers to some of the questions that have been raised and some of the comments that have been said today.
I will not stop until we see justice done on behalf of these women and men, who serve us in the air. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Millender-McDonald.
Ms. GONZALES. May I add a comment?
Mr. DUNCAN. Pardon?
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Ms. GONZALES. May I add a very brief comment?
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes ma'am.
Ms. GONZALES. Okay. In my 18 years in the FAA, once I year I watched a 5-minute video on diversity. That has been the total training that I've received. Additionally, I'd like to offer my assistance in any way in helping come up with alternate solutions to stopping this for the future generation of air traffic controllers.
Number three, I would like to ask all of you members to please read our summary statements and take the time. It will really paint a picture of history of you that shows how ineffective and how we can really work on this.
Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Mr. Costello.
Mr. COSTELLO. Ms. Sellers, I have a few questions for you if you will, for the members. You've been an air traffic controllerup until about two weeks ago when you were terminatedfor about 10 years. So you were hired in 1987, is that right?
Ms. SELLERS. Yes, September of '87.
Mr. COSTELLO. When did you file your first complaint with your supervisor? You said the first time that you were harassed you went to your supervisor at the St. Louis facility. What year was that in?
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Ms. SELLERS. September 1995.
Mr. COSTELLO. So you were hired in 1987 and September 1995 was your first complaint that went on file verbally with your supervisor?
Ms. SELLERS. Yes.
Mr. COSTELLO. How often are you evaluated by the FAA as far as your performance is concerned?
Ms. SELLERS. Every year.
Mr. COSTELLO. And is that a written evaluation?
Ms. SELLERS. Yes, it is.
Mr. COSTELLO. From 1987 until your first complaint inwhenever it was again, in 1995what type of evaluations had you received?
Ms. SELLERS. When I first began in 1987 they had a tiered performance rating where you could obtain either Outstanding, Exceptional, Fully Successful, and then below that.
I alwaysin every single performance evaluationwas either Satisfactory or Exceptional.
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Mr. COSTELLO. So either Satisfactory or Exceptional. And when did you receive your first poor evaluationless than satisfactory?
Ms. SELLERS. I have never received a poor evaluationa yearly evaluation. Even in 1995 I received Satisfactory. For the last 5 months before I was fired I was constantly complaining to my supervisor of losing focus, not being able to concentrate and deal with the harassment at the same time.
When I had an operational error in February 1997, that was when they gave me a report that listed four or five poor judgment calls, plus the operational error as poor performance, and I went from Satisfactory to Below Satisfactory, within that time.
Mr. COSTELLO. After you filed the EEO complaint, did you request that you be transferred from the facility at St. Louis?
Ms. SELLERS. After I filed the EEO I did not request a transfer because I thought the right thing was going to be done and he would be terminated or transferred. I felt that the system was here to protect me. There was a period of time after that when I realized he wasn't going anywhere and the harassment continued, so I looked at the option of transferring myself.
I asked for a schedule change; that was never addressed. I asked for a transfer to another facility at the same level; that was denied. They did offer a transfer to a facility that would give me a cut in pay of $25,000 a year. In return for my job I was to sign a gag order that they put in, drop my EEO complaint, and promise not to file suit against them. Then I could have my job.
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Mr. COSTELLO. You could have your job, but that was a job at a facility where you would have to take a cut in pay of $25,000 a year?
Ms. SELLERS. I should say ''a job'', yes. They would give me a job under those conditions.
Mr. COSTELLO. We have time constraints here so I'm just going to ask you, after going through the whole process of filing verbal complaints, written complaints, filing an EEO complaint, and now being terminated by the FAA, obviously the procedures in place at the FAA to investigate sexual harassment complaintsat least in my judgmentis a sham.
Let me ask you, what do you think is the solution? What needs to happen at the FAA in order for sexual harassment complaints to be reported in a timely manner, investigated in a timely manner, and your thoughts on a solution?
Ms. SELLERS. To summarize my statement, first of all you need to take the EEO system out of their hands. You need to give it to some agency that's not employed, connected with, by, throughanything with the FAA. The DOT and the FAA are one and the same, just different agencies. The agency investigating itself is only going to foster the behaviorit's the fox watching the henhouse as they said, even on television.
I also think that the timeliness is a big sham. It's put in there to have women just give up, go away, shut up. My complaint took 21 months to finish and the response for the agency, their determination: no discrimination.
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Mr. COSTELLO. The last question, quickly. Since your termination from the FAA as an air traffic controller, have youdo you have legal counsel now and are you pursuing a lawsuit against the FAA?
Ms. SELLERS. I have legal counsel but I'd like to deter that last part of the question.
Mr. COSTELLO. Very good. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you, Mr. Costello. Mr. Lipinski.
Mr. LIPINSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all I'd like to thank all the witnesses for their testimony. I'm sure it was very difficult for some of you to come forward and give the testimony that you did. In many cases your written statements even amplify on your testimony and I appreciate hearing that and reading that, and I'm sure the other members of the subcommittee do also.
I have to say, in the 15 years I've been a member of Congress I don't really think there has been an occasion when I've heard the type of testimony I have heard from this group of witnesses. I think what has apparently been going on in the FAA has really been appalling.
And I really hope and pray that the new administrator is going to really get to the bottom of the problems. Obviously, she cannot do it alone. The help she can get from her staff, the help that she can get from you folks, the help that she can get from members of this committee, really are not going to be the total resources that she's going to need.
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It seems to me that there is definitely a cultural problem within the FAA, and perhaps specifically with the air traffic controllers, that really have to be addressed.
And I met yesterday with members of the Union, and as the new president mentioned to mehe is very new; it's the first opportunity I've had to talk to himbut just in the brief conversation I had with him yesterday, I realized that he is a very sensitive individual and I think that the Union can be of very, very significant help to the FAA in overcoming this cultural problem that I believe, and many others believe, that it has.
But I hope that the FAA avails themselves of the opportunity to work with the Union because I think the Union has some very good points to make, some very good programs to come forward with.
I'm happy that the administrator was here to hear the testimony of most of the witnesses. The last couple she wasn't here for because she had to leave just after our last break for a vote. But she did hear four out of the six witnesses, and I'm sure that she has taken all that testimony to heart.
It is one thing to read it; it's another thing to hear people actually give it. It's much more impressive when someone actually gives it to them. So you can rest assured that this subcommittee is going to follow the progress very, very closely of what is transpiring with the FAA in this particular area.
I'm going to cut my time off because the chairman has a few words to say, and I also understand that Juanita Millender-McDonald has arranged for a press conference for all of you to participate in, and it's very important you do get this message out to as many people as possible.
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And if I would stop talking the chairman could start talking and you could go ahead and use the room you want to use for your press conference. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, let me thank Mr. Lipinski, and I certainly agree with his statement, and I know that this has been a difficult thing for many of you to come here today, but we appreciate your testimony. I'm not going to ask any questions because I have been asked to try to bring this to a conclusion so you can get to your press conference.
I will say that I think having a hearing like this, calling attention to some of this, is one good way to get something done about some of these problems. Obviously you can't change a department or agency with 48,000 employees overnight. I do think that you will see an improvement on things like this, particularly with a person like Ms. Garvey at the head of FAA.
I can tell you though, you know from the statements made that the members of this subcommittee certainly want to see sexual harassmentI guess there's no way we can wipe it out entirelybut we certainly want to see as much done about it as possible.
Sexual harassment should not be tolerated; it's that simple. And I think first of all, one thing I've noticed is that these judgments are becoming very, very big, and I think that's going to do more than anything, but people who aremale or femalewho have any inclination toward sexual harassment, should think about that because juries are returning very large verdicts in these cases, as I think they should. So that's going to be a deterrent.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I can say that to me, personally, anybody who sexually harasses somebody else, they've got something mental wrong with themthey have mental problems. That's a serious statement to make but I think that's the case.
I've also noticed that these complaints seem to pop up in agencies, organizations where the workload is the lightest and there's too much free time. And so I think that if we're finding that one particular location has more of these complaints than others, we need to check the workload in those particular cases, because it indicates as I say, too much free time plus mental problems and so forth.
So we're going to have to do everything possible to stop this. And with that, we will conclude this hearing. Thank you very much.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Mr. Chairman, before you do that let me again thank you and the Ranking Member for your unreserved support on this issue, and quickly coming to the aid of me and the other members who requested this hearing.
Thank you so very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, thank you for your leadership on this, too. As I said in my opening statement, you've been a very valuable member of this subcommittee and I appreciate your hard work on this. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 1:26 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
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