Drunk at work. Hostile environment.
The Washington Times has revealed that Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) had his own hush fund to keep one former employee quiet. She claimed that the lawmaker “was frequently drunk and created a hostile working environment.” She threatened a lawsuit, but he settled on a $48,395 deal with her to keep her quiet.
The female employee left after three months, but the value of the settlement equaled five addition months pay. This may have violated House rules since a lawmaker cannot keep “an employee who does not perform duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation such employee receives.”
From The Washington Times:
The payoff in the Grijalva case appeared to violate House rules that prohibit a Congress member from retaining “an employee who does not perform duties for the offices of the employing authority commensurate with the compensation such employee receives.”
A legitimate severance package also should be paid in a lump sum and reported separately, according to House rules.
The role of the House Employment Counsel in squelching workplace complaints emerged amid flurry of sexual harassment accusations and shock that Congress has covered it up for years.
A few weeks ago, The Washington Post reported that the Office of Compliance has shelled out $17 million in 264 cases since 1997 “to federal employees for violations or various employment rules.” This amount includes sexual harassment, but it also shows that there is other inappropriate behavior going on at Capital Hill.
Is anyone shocked that Grijalva used his statement on this story to brag that there was no sexual harassment in this settlement? Yeah, I’m not:
“On the advice of House Employment Counsel, I provided a severance package to a former employee who resigned. The severance did not involve the Office of Compliance and at no time was any allegation of sexual harassment made, and no sexual harassment occurred,” Mr. Grijalva said in an email to The Washington Times.
“Under the terms of the agreement, had there been an allegation of sexual harassment, the employee would have been free to report it. Regrettably, for me to provide any further details on this matter would violate the agreement,” he said.
Yeah…okay. Do you want a cookie? The fact is you showed up DRUNK to work and made an uncomfortable work environment. Then you used our money to hush the employee and hide your behavior.
Granted, a lot of people have concentrated on sexual harassment and assault when it comes to these cases. But other disgusting behavior is just as disturbing, especially since they’re using our money to hide it.
I blogged yesterday that Congress has returned from the Thanksgiving holiday under pressure to unseal all these deals as they expect more scandals come to light. As this report shows, it’s not all about sexual harassment:
“It seems like all of these House bodies are designed to help cover for members of Congress,” said Melanie Sloan, an ethics lawyer in Washington. “A large part of the problem is that each member of Congress can treat their staff as their own fiefdom and also know that it will remain silent.”
Sloan has levied accusations against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), which include verbal abuse, when she worked as a Democratic counsel for the House Judiciary Committee in the 1990s.
But it was the accusations against Conyers and details of the wrongful dismissal claim that he settled in 2015 that showed the grueling process victims have to go through in order to lodge complaints. From BuzzFeed:
The process was “disgusting,” said Matthew Peterson, who worked as a law clerk representing the complainant, and who listed as a signatory to some of the documents.
“It is a designed cover-up,” said Peterson, who declined to discuss details of the case but agreed to characterize it in general terms. “You feel like they were betrayed by their government just for coming forward. It’s like being abused twice.”
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