A group of employees at the United States’ Department of Justice penned a letter to new Attorney General William Barr about treatment of LGBTI employees within the DOJ.
The letter came from DOJ Pride, a group representing LGBTI employees at the agency.
‘On behalf of DOJ Pride, we congratulate you on your appointment as the 85th Attorney General of the United States. Welcome back to the Department of Justice,’ the letter begins.
Barr previously served as the Attorney General from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush.
The letter consists of two parts — a request for an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement and testimonies from employees.
A statement of opportunity
An Equal Employment Opportunity statement is a written statement affirming an employer’s commitment to equality within the workplace. This abides by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
DOJ Pride reveals in the letter they request this statement from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but he never delivered one.
‘This affirmation is especially important to our members in light of the Department’s recent litigating position, which it volunteered “in its capacity as the Nation’s largest employer,” that Title VII does not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,’ the letter states.
‘Our members need to know whether the Department will continue to honor such protections with respect to its own employees, as applicable under binding EEOC precedent.’
The second part of the letter offers insight based on a 2018 DOJ Pride survey. It reveals the agency ‘is not recruiting and retaining top LGBTQ talent’.
Numerous testimonies from employees follow below. They show some are choosing to leave their job due to this, while others are expressing their dissatisfaction with the DOJ.
‘I am leaving the DOJ in part due to the DOJ’s treatment of its LGBTQ employees,’ one person simply responded in the survey.
Others shared the experiences and impressions of colleagues: ‘I have had many LGBTQ friends either leave the Department or express disinterest in applying to openings in the Department in the first instance.’
Some survey responses called out specific agencies within the DOJ.
‘It’s harder for gay men and trans people to work in the BOP [Federal Bureau of Prisons]. The BOP definitely does not attract or very often retain gay men and trans people,’ one person wrote.
Another addressed the FBI: ‘Please do something about the FBI’s unfair evaluation process at the FBI Academy. There are many gay agents attending that are dismissed because they are not “bro-y” or masculine enough.’
Finally, one person wrote that they believe the DOJ ‘just don’t think about us at all’.
Who is William Barr?
The Senate confirmed Barr to the position of Attorney General in February.
The vote happened mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting to confirm and Democrats voting against. Only three Democrats voted in favor of him.
The Attorney General is the highest-ranking lawyer of the United States, serving the federal government.
Barr has a worrying record on LGBTI rights with this powerful position.
Throughout his career, he advocated for numerous discriminatory practices against people living with HIV. He previously wanted to prevent people with HIV from claiming asylum in the US.
In 1995, he wrote the ‘homosexual movement’ is ‘one of the movements that is causing the erosion of morality in America’.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, he deflected most questions about LGBTI rights and equality.
GSN reached out to Department of Justice for comment.
DOJ spokesperson Kelly Laco responded to GSN’s inquiry, stating the agency is ‘committed to implementing policies that will ensure equal employment opportunity in all aspects’.
This includes ‘daily operations and hiring practices, enforcing employment anti-discrimination laws, and fostering inclusive work environments that afford men and women from diverse backgrounds the equal opportunity to grow in their careers and support the Justice mission’.
She concluded: ‘Additionally, it is the policy of the Department of Justice to foster a work environment that is free from harassment based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, or political affiliation, among other factors.’