Former, current Grand Canyon workers allege abuses

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Federal investigators are looking into allegations of discrimination, retaliation and a sexually hostile work environment in the Grand Canyon's river corridor.

A group of 13 former and current Grand Canyon employees sent a letter to the Interior Department in September, alleging at least 15 years of abuses and prompting an investigation by the agency's Office of Inspector General.

The agency formally requested the investigation after receiving the letter that also was sent to members of Congress in Arizona, National Park Service spokeswoman April Slayton said. The agency takes "allegations of this nature and all personnel-related matters seriously," she said.

Agents from the Office of Inspector General have been conducting interviews. Spokesman Kris Kolesnik declined comment Monday.

Grand Canyon National Park manages 280 miles of the Colorado River, providing emergency and medical services, as well as guiding researchers, politicians and students on river trips that can last a week or longer. Commercial and private river trips are run through different systems.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, requests that the river-outfitting duties of staff in the river corridor be separated from emergency services to create a balance of power and make it easier for park-service employees to do their jobs. It also requests that anyone found to have violated the law or park policies and regulations be held accountable.

The women wrote in the letter that they have reported abuses in the past to management at the park only to be retaliated against with threats, damage to their reputations, sabotage of their work and termination.

"These horrendous working conditions and the retaliatory actions against the women must be stopped," the letter states.

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