LGBT+ employees of the US Justice Department raised concerns of discrimination under the Trump administration.
Many staff have left the department and morale is low, workers have said.
Attorney General William Barr said he is “troubled” by concerns raised by the group and has reportedly vowed to investigate claims of rising discrimination in the agency.
In a letter obtained by BuzzFeed News to activists with DOJ Pride, an organisation which represents LGBT+ members of the Justice Department, Barr said he had taken steps to sign an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement.
He added he would look into specific claims of discrimination raised by employees.
He wrote: “Issuing the statement is not only required by law — as you noted in your letter — it is the right thing to do.
“Employment decisions at the Department must be made solely on merit and free from discrimination. Every employee should know that I stand by that principle.”
The EEO statement reportedly states that “no applicant for employment or employee of our Department will be denied equal opportunity because of race, colour, religious, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability (physical or mental), gender identity, protected genetic information, pregnancy, status as a parent, marital status, political affiliation, or any other non merit-based factor.”
Barr continued: “I was troubled by the concerns you raised about low morale and in particular about discrimination against LGBTQ employees.
“I have shared your letter with FBI and [Bureau of Prisons] and have directed them to take appropriate action to investigate and address allegations of discrimination and to prevent it going forward.”
He concluded: “I know that these steps are not a cure-all. But I believe that they are important, and I thank you for bringing these matters to my attention.”
A recent survey by DOJ Pride found that 31 percent of respondents felt that the Department of Justice “values its LGBTQ employees”.
Around 43 percent said “the Department of Justice does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”