U.S. courts seek comments on sexual misconduct in judiciary

Current and former federal judiciary law clerks and other employees can now voice their opinions about inappropriate conduct in the U.S. Courts.

A mailbox on the website uscourts.gov is open and taking comments relating to the policies and procedures for protecting all court workers from sexual harassment and other misbehavior. It will remain open until March 21. Only comments related to improving workplace policies and procedures will be considered. Comments, which will not be made public, may be signed or submitted anonymously.

Submissions to the mailbox will be used by the Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group. This group was established in January in response to the alarming rise in allegations about sexual harassment in the public and private sectors.

Chief Justice John Roberts directed the working group to examine possible changes to the judiciary’s codes of conduct as well as how federal courts handle reports of misconduct and educate employees about unacceptable behavior.

The mailbox is one of several early initiatives the group has taken.

Other steps taken by the working group include:

• Revising the model confidentiality statement form the judiciary’s internal website to eliminate any language that could unintentionally discourage employees from reporting workplace misconduct;

• Revising the confidentiality provisions in employee/law clerk handbooks to clarify that nothing in the provisions prevents the filing of a complaint;

• Adding a category relating to sexual misconduct to the data that the judiciary already collects about judicial misbehavior;

• Expanding workplace conduct training the Federal Judicial Center provides to judges and others who work in the judiciary.

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