An elderly, disabled employee at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported harassment by her colleagues and superiors that she says originates from her support of President Trump. Her complaints were not investigated but instead she was reported for violating the Hatch Act.
Wanda Wooten, who has worked in the federal government for more than a decade, is currently a statistical assistant at the National Minerals Information Center. In late February 2019, she hung a picture of the president and two of first lady Melania Trump. The next morning, she found a note signed by Mike Magyar, listed on the USGS website as acting director of the NMIC.
“Wanda, The Hatch Act specifically prohibits any political campaigning, etc on Federal sites,” the note reads. “As President Trump has an active re-election campaign ongoing, these images violate the Hatch Act so I removed them. Mike Magyar.”
Don’t all the federal agencies have pictures of the president hanging on the wall in their buildings? Are those campaigning?
Wooten confronted Magyar about the note, and pointed him to a determination by the Obama administration that pictures of presidents taken in an official capacity did not violate the Hatch Act. According to Wooten, Magyar told her she was creating a “hostile work environment.”
Two months later, Ms. Wooten was notified that the office had concluded its investigation into her possible Hatch Act violation and determined that, indeed, she had violated the act.
“Although OSC has concluded that you violated the Hatch Act … we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and instead are issuing you this warning letter,” the letter from Ana Galindo-Marrone, the chief of the OSC’s Hatch Act unit reads.
Part of the letter reads:
Because you displayed multiple photographs of the First Lady and President Trump, two of which were altered by the addition of ‘I Voted’ stickers, OSC notified you on March 7, 2019 that you were in violation of the Hatch Act. OSC then advised that you could come into compliance with the law by removing all images except for one official photograph of President Trump, provided the ‘I Voted’ sticker was removed. OSC confirmed on March 8, 2019, that you removed the stickers and photographs at issue.
While Wooten’s Hatch Act investigation was swiftly completed, the investigation of acts of harassment against her were not completed nearly as expeditiously.
According to Wooten, the harassment began in October 2017, when someone opened a drink she had left in the refrigerator and spilled on the floor. She said she found a note in her lunchbox at the time, saying “eat shit and die,” which she threw away. Wooten informed her immediate supervisor Shonta Osborne on October 24.
Five months later, the same thing happened again. In March 2018, a note was placed in her lunchbox that read, “You fucking idiot,” a copy of which was provided to The Daily Caller. Along with the note, her container of fruit was opened.
Wooten left her cubicle light on regularly because her disability made it hard to turn on and off. She would regularly come in to the office to find it turned off. After leaving a note in April telling her colleagues to leave the light on, she received another note April 18 saying, “Your damn light? You mean this U.S. government light, powered by electricity, both paid by taxpayers? Turn it off when not in use, and do not swear at me, thank you. Very sincerely, A. Taxpayer.”
An email Wooten wrote to Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt reads: “I have gone many times to my supervisor, to her supervisor, and to EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and nothing — absolutely nothing has been done on my behalf concerning the harassment I am forced to endure from my fellow employees … I have had messages posted in my cubicle, on my lunch (I don’t put my lunch in our refrigerator now because I don’t know if someone has spit in it) my personal belongings stolen.”
Other harassment included a nasty note regarding a Trump picture she had in her cubicle.
“When people who worship Trump build little shrines to Trump in federal workplace public space against the spirit of the law; and curse and swear like the good Christian Trump is, then we can know that they, like Trump, admire ignorance,” a portion of the typed note reads.
“Never learned the difference between ‘to’ and ‘too’? That’s OK, most Trumpsters don’t know!” read the handwritten note, in reference to one of the captions beneath the smiley faces representing her grandchildren.
Apparently Ms. Wooten’s situation is now under investigation by an outside contractor. “The decision has been made to obtain the services of an outside contractor to conduct a neutral and thorough administrative investigation into the alleged misconduct,” reads the letter from the office of the USGS regional director’s office.
One can only image if an employee with a Obama “HOPE” picture would be treated the same way.
(Staff Photo By Angela Rowlings/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)