The DOL’s “Dignity and Respect” Investigation

A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Was Named.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), in a report entitled “Dignity and Respect,” found that men and women “are different in their approach to having dignity and respect at work.”

Men are less tolerant of “insults and disrespect” and women find “disproportionately [have] been subject to hostile work environments.” It’s an interesting finding because it’s really hard to find a man who is not a huge fan of the title of DOL report.

In January of this year, a story broke on the Huffington Post that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) was investigating the DOL for their decision to name Andrew L. Lewis as a “period dignity officer” in response to a series of female colleagues who worked for him. The case is ongoing, but the DOL decided in July 2016 to name the man a “period dignity officer” because of his “use of his position as a manager to sexually harass women.”

Lewis’s alleged behavior includes the sexual harassment of two women–one named Jane Doe, and another named Jane F. In May of 2016, Lewis was reprimanded, fined $2,500, and put on desk duty by OFCCP for harassing these women. Lewis was also fined for sexually harassing two managers.

After these stories broke, DOL called OFCCP in charge, John H. Gibson, and said they wanted Lewis to be removed as a period dignity officer “effective immediately,” and stated they did not want to know about the cases that were already in the investigation.

A year later and a half into the investigation, Gibson called DOL on L.L. Ferguson of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ferguson was one of the two women put on suspension because of the sexual harassment.

Ferguson has been through a series of hearings since she first stepped into office in 2016. Some of her first actions as a prosecutor were to appoint as deputy chief of staff Mark D. Wilson, her former chief of staff, to replace Ferguson–who chose to stay on for as long as he could.

In October of 2016, Ferguson called both the D

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