A top science advisor to President Joe Biden will not be fired despite a White House review that found Dr. Eric Lander violated the “Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy.”
An internal investigation was launched into Lander, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), last year after a workplace complaint accused him of bullying staff members.
A probe into the complaint did not find “credible evidence” about allegations of Lander exhibiting gender-based discrimination. It also found the reassignment of the complaining staff member was “deemed appropriate.”
Lander will not be fired following the review, although he will receive counseling.
The decision conflicts with comments made by Biden during his January 2021 swearing-in ceremony for White House staff members. At the time, Biden claimed he would not tolerate colleagues disrespecting one another and would fire them “on the spot.”
On Monday, the White House defended its actions to keep Lander on the staff. White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed the administration was following a “process” to deal with workplace complaints.
“The President has been crystal clear with all of us about his high expectations of how he and his staff should be creating a respectful work environment. One of the steps we took early on in the administration was to institute a safe and respectful workplace policy across the Executive Office of the President,” Psaki said during a press briefing.
“It was because of this policy and this process that when these — when the complaint was filed a full and thorough investigation was conducted pursuant to that policy.”
Psaki’s comments come after Lander sent out an email to staff members on Friday to apologize for his behavior.
“It’s my responsibility to set a respectful tone for our community. It’s clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility. I have spoken to colleagues within OSTP in a disrespectful or demeaning way,” Lander stated.
“This is not only wrong but also inconsistent with our Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy. It is never acceptable for me to speak that way. I am deeply sorry for my conduct.”
Going forward, Lander claims he plans to take steps to promote a better workplace and hold regular check-ins with staff members to create an appropriate work environment.
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