Barr says he will investigate allegations of LGBT discrimination at DOJ

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrParnas attorney asks William Barr to recuse himself from investigation Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Pentagon to place new restrictions, monitoring on foreign military students MORE said he is "troubled" by concerns raised by a group of LGBTQ employees of the Justice Department and has reportedly vowed to investigate claims of rising discrimination in the agency.

In a letter Thursday obtained by BuzzFeed News to activists with DOJ Pride, an organization representing LGBTQ members of the broader Justice Department, Barr confirmed he had taken steps to sign an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement and would look in to claims of specific discrimination that the activists had raised.

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“Issuing the statement is not only required by law — as you noted in your letter — it is the right thing to do,” Barr wrote. “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 is the first such document issued by the Justice Department under the Trump administration, according to BuzzFeed. It reportedly states that “no applicant for employment or employee of our Department will be denied equal opportunity because of race, color, 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 nonmerit-based factor.”

"I was troubled by the concerns you raised about low morale and in particular about discrimination against LGBTQ employees," he continued. "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."

His letter came in response to allegations the group had made concerning discrimination against LGBTQ employees at both the FBI academy and Bureau of Prisons, which the group asserted had increased under the Trump administration.

"I know that these steps are not a cure-all," Barr concluded, "But I believe that they are important, and I thank you for bringing these matters to my attention."

A survey last month conducted by DOJ Pride found that less than a third of respondents, 31 percent, felt that "the Department of Justice values its LGBTQ employees." About 43 percent agreed that "the Department of Justice does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression."

At the time, DOJ Pride wrote that the survey showed that "morale is low among LGBTQ individuals currently employed in the Department, and that the Department is not recruiting and retaining top LGBTQ talent."