Pentagon Fails to Act on Woman Who Says Complaint Cost Her Job

(Bloomberg) -- The Pentagon has yet to decide on any disciplinary action 13 months after its inspector general backed allegations against Leidos Holdings Inc. for retaliating against a woman who had complained of a hostile work environment at a subcontractor.

The whistle-blower was dropped from a follow-up subcontract in April 2016 after she filed complaints with the Pentagon and Leidos that a supervisor made “inappropriate sexual and racial comments to her,” according to a heavily redacted Jan. 3, 2018, inspector general’s report. “We found that” Leidos “had motive to exclude” her, according to the report.

The inspector general recommended that then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “consider appropriate action against Leidos,” such as ordering the company “to award compensatory damages, including back pay, employee benefits and other terms and conditions of employment” that would have applied had she been hired on the additional contract.

Asked why the case remains in limbo, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a spokesman for chief weapons buyer Ellen Lord, said in an email: “Since this specific case is currently under legal review, the department will not comment on the DoD OIG’s finding. The department remains committed to ensure that anyone can report without fear of reprisal or retribution.”

Melissa Lee Koskovich, a senior vice president at Leidos, said in an email that “given the ongoing nature of this legal matter, we are unable to comment.”

‘Diversity and Inclusion’

In a policy statement on its website, the Reston, Virginia-based company says “we believe diversity and inclusion create cohesive and collaborative teams” and shape “how we recruit talent.” Forbes Magazine listed Leidos as No. 159 last year on its rankings of the 250 “Best Employers for Diversity.”

The inspector general’s office still “stands by our report and our finding that Leidos” retaliated against the woman who complained, spokesman Bruce Anderson said in an email. “The Department of Defense is still considering its decision with respect to” the finding, he said.

The inspector general’s report deleted names and titles of the whistle-blower, the person she complained about and subcontractor she worked for.

Leidos is No. 16 among U.S. defense contractors, with $2.8 billion in 2017 defense contract obligations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government. The company provides the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security with scientific, engineering, systems integration, cybersecurity and technical services expertise.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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