Probe Reveals Allegations Of Harassment And Retaliation At The FDIC

( – Last year, a Wall Street Journal report detailed a toxic workplace at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). It found there was a long history of sexual harassment, visits to a strip club, and male employees sending lewd photos to their female counterparts. Yet, there were no repercussions. The report, published in November, triggered the FDIC to conduct its own internal review. What it found and outlined in a 234-page report is damning.

During the probe, Cleary Gottlieb, a law firm, spoke with more than 500 of the FDIC’s nearly 6,000 employees and discovered a toxic work culture. Many of those interviewed recounted their experiences of sexual harassment and noted that there was “a lack of clarity and credibility around internal reported channels.” That led to an underreporting of incidents. In addition, there was “a widespread fear of retaliation” among those who did file complaints.

There were a number of allegations of misconduct, including 97 individuals who reported 145 incidents of unwanted touching and attention, physical and verbal conduct of a sexual nature, unwanted sexual advances, and sexual assaults. There were nearly 150 incidents of reported sexuality or gender-based discrimination, and more than 300 incidents of bullying, verbal abuse, and threats. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Workers, including senior leaders within the FDIC, expressed concern that Chairman Martin Gruenberg, whom President Joe Biden nominated for the role, has anger issues. Many workers said they saw interactions with him that were “extremely difficult and volatile.” He’s widely perceived within the company as “someone who was angry and upset and who could not control his temper.”

The report has understandably drawn concern about Gruenberg’s ability to lead the agency effectively. Some, including at least one Democrat, Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), have called for him to step down and let someone else take the helm. Prior to the report’s release, Gruenberg issued an apology “for any shortcomings on [his] part” to the company employees, saying “how very sorry” he was. Whether it’s enough to save his job is yet to be seen.

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