A recent report reveals yet another sexual harassment scandal on the left. The report suggests that the House brokered a settlement against Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks in 2006 when he fired an employee in retaliation for her allegation of being sexually assaulted.
Via the Federalist Papers Project:
The Daily Caller is reporting that Andrea Payne, a congressional aide at the time in the New York Congressman’s office, filed a complaint with the US Congress Office of Compliance and was fired just weeks later. He admitted that Payne’s termination did not have to do with the quality of her work, according to her lawsuit.
“This is an action to recover for damages sustained by plaintiff when Representative Meeks violated her Constitutional rights by retaliating against her, and ultimately terminating her employment, because of her sexual assault lawsuit,” Payne’s attorneys wrote.
The Office of Compliance uses taxpayer money to pay out financial settlements to resolve allegations of sexual abuse, discrimination, and other workplace violations by members. It also binds the victims with tight secrecy clauses, The DC reported, which has triggered bipartisan outcry from feminists to conservatives.
Payne’s retaliation lawsuit dealt with how the Office of Compliance was set up to offer limited protections to Capitol Hill staffers. Meeks argued that the existence of the Office of Compliance meant that he should not be financially liable in the suit, according to legal documents.
Here’s how the story goes: Payne visited Flowers Physical Therapy in 2000 for treatment after she was injured in a car accident.
It is owned by Neville Flowers, whose wife Joan “is an important campaign supporter and fundraiser for Representative Meeks,” the suit says.
The physical therapist working there sexually assaulted her, she claimed in legal documents. Payne pursued criminal charges against the employee, and a lawsuit against the company.
The day an article about the incident appeared in a Queens newspaper, “Joan Flowers came to Representative Meeks’ office in an agitated state and waved a copy of the article in the reception area while complaining loudly about its contents,” the suit says.
Meeks said “when he received complaints from one of his campaign contributors he must treat the matter very seriously” and told Payne he was not going to pay her for overtime work she had performed, the lawsuit says. Meeks and top staff began allegedly retaliating in other ways, such as refusing to reimburse Payne for expenses, verbally abusing her, removing files from her computer, and requiring her to work more unpaid overtime.
Payne then filed a complaint with the Office of Compliance and less than two weeks later, she was fired.
The lawsuit moved through the legal system for six years, with Rep. Meeks being represented by the US Attorney’s office.
On Dec. 1, the Office of Compliance said it had paid out five other settlements involving members’ offices, ranging from $5,200 to $150,000, in the last five years. One was a sexual harassment case relating to Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, that resulted in an $84,000 settlement to a former employee. Farenthold agreed to repay the money with personal funds this week.
According to a Buzzfeed report, Rep. John Conyers settled a complaint in 2014 with $27,000 in taxpayer money after a staffer filed a complaint with the Office of Compliance alleging he fired her for refusing his sexual advances. In 2010, the Office of Compliance paid about $100,000 to two male staffers after they were allegedly sexually harassed by former Rep. Eric Massa, a New York Democrat, who resigned.