I Was a Nuclear Site Guard. My Colleagues Sexually Assaulted Me.

BY JENNIFER GLOVER | nytimes.com 

Ms. Glover was a security guard at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site.

The violence and lack of accountability I experienced at such a sensitive location put us all at risk.

The sexual harassment and violence I endured while working as a security guard at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site loops over and over through my mind. I have nightmares about it to this day.

During a training exercise in November 2017, I was thrown to the ground, handcuffed and hit on my mouth with a gun. A fellow guard groped my buttocks and groin. Another one reached under my shirt to grab my breasts and ripped out my nipple ring.

But I will not let that define me. In the coming days I plan to file a lawsuit to enforce my legal right to not be assaulted or harassed at work or then to be retaliated against by my employer for speaking up.

I am doing this because I believe that all people — especially women working in male-dominated industries, and particularly those at nuclear sites — deserve to be safe at work. And because people who are capable of perpetrating the assault I experienced should not be entrusted to protect the highest levels of our national security.

I consider myself a fairly tough chick. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had an affinity for firearms. I am a proud lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and a big supporter of the Second Amendment. I believe everyone should have the right to defend themselves. That’s part of the reason I fell in love with weight lifting and fitness; it was always important for me to know that I could defend myself.

My career choices have always followed my passion of protecting myself and others. When the security contractor Centerra (which was later replaced by SOC) recruited me to work at the Nevada National Security Site, I thought I had landed my dream job.

I took my career very seriously. I maintained my shooting qualifications, received numerous Federal Emergency Management Agency certifications and won many accolades for my hard work. In 2017, I was named security guard of the quarter. I loved being part of a team and having the awesome responsibility of protecting people and nuclear assets at the Nevada site.

I didn’t just love my job — I was really good at it too. I qualified as a master shooter and had a Top Secret “Q Level” security clearance. Working at a Top Secret facility, we conducted monthly tactical training exercises for every scenario imaginable. My daily routine included wearing a bulletproof vest and tactical gear while patrolling the desert in Super Duty trucks, Humvees and Bearcats alongside veterans and former law enforcement personnel.

But after experiencing harassment, assault and retaliation at the hands of peers I admired, work was never the same.

Fellow security guards printed and passed around bodybuilding photos from my social media sites, accompanied by false stories of sexual conquests of me. Male officers repeatedly showed me their genitalia while on patrols and car-pooling to work. I was groped on the work charter bus and propositioned for sex by my peers and superiors — sometimes at work and sometimes by text late at night while their wives and children were asleep.

And that award I won? While I was walking up to receive it, a fellow security guard yelled out, “Who’d you sleep with to get that?” My supervisors heard that. But nothing happened.

When I finally built up the courage to report the assault up the chain of command, again, nothing happened. No investigations, no discipline. And with each unpunished event, my colleagues were emboldened.

I followed all the appropriate protocols in reporting sexual harassment, exactly as I was trained. I had witnesses. I waited patiently for my superiors and human resources to take appropriate action.

Instead, it got worse. During the training exercise, the hardest part of the violent sexual assault was the emotional pain of being let down by my teammates. My peers laughed at me for reporting all the incidents, and I started to be afraid to go to work. When I acknowledged my fear to my lieutenant, he pulled my security clearance and claimed I was “psychologically unfit” to do my job.

They took away my guns and made me work in a guard shack. I was forced to take a psychological exam, which I passed, but my employer didn’t like that and made me take another one, which I also passed. Instead of restoring my security clearance and putting me back on regular duty, the company fired me.

It was the first time I had ever been fired. I was devastated. My fellow security guards, whom I was sworn to protect, turned their backs on me. I feared for my life. I still do.

Related: A Nuclear Site Guard Accused Colleagues of Sexual Assault. Then She Was Fired.
Jan. 25, 2019

Today, I am still afraid my former employer and colleagues will retaliate. But if my coming forward prevents just one person from enduring the torment, discrimination and retaliation I’ve experienced, or sheds light on Centerra and SOC’s lack of accountability, it will all be worth it. This story is bigger than just me. The American public should be concerned about what is going on at that site. Our national security is at stake.

Jennifer Glover was a security guard at the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site.

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