The Daily Caller has discovered that Democratic Representative Gregory Meeks of New York brokered a settlement in 2006 after he fired a staffer in retaliation for reporting that she was sexually assaulted at a business tied to a campaign contributor.
Andrea Payne was then a congressional aide in the New York Democrat’s Queen’s office and after filling a complaint with the Office of Compliance was fired by Meeks weeks later.
Meeks has admitted that Payne’s termination had nothing 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.”
Payne’s retaliation lawsuit dealt with how the Office of Compliance was set up to offer limited protections to Capitol Hill staffers but Meeks has defended that the office’s existence means that he should not be financially liable in the suit.
According to the suit, Payne visited Flowers Physical Therapy in 2000 for treatment after she was injured in a car accident. The Therapy center is owned by Neville Flowers, whose wife Joan “is an important campaign supporter and fundraiser for Representative Meeks.”
The physical therapist working there sexually assaulted her, she claims in the legal document. Payne pursued criminal charges against the employee, and a lawsuit against the company.
The next day an article about the assault appeared in a Queens newspaper and Flowers appeared in Meek’s 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 filed a complaint with the Congressional Office of Compliance which is in charge of enforcing labor law, in 2000 she wrote to the House Ethics Committee to say she believed the overtime issue was retaliation for her lawsuit against the donor’s company.
Less than two weeks later, Meeks fire her saying “I just don’t feel that this is working,” the lawsuit alleges.
An employee testified that the New York office manager “admitted to her that Ms. Payne was fired because she sent the letter to the House Ethics Committee,” according to the lawsuit.
The abuses don’t stop there when it comes to Meeks office. He then denies Payne her unemployment insurance saying she had quit voluntarily.
Payne and Meek’s office go back and forth for a while until Payne plans to sue Meeks’ congressional office and Meeks personally for $7 million.
But Meek’s argues under the existence of the Congressional Accountability Act, which is the act that created the Office of Compliance, he should not be personally liable.
“Case law says holding an official personally liable wouldn’t be appropriate if there is ‘another remedy, equally effective in the view of Congress,’ the judge summarized.”
Victim advocate groups have been stating that the Office of Compliance forces victims of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace to go through a slow and unsatisfying gauntlet and prevents voters from learning about the member’ conduct.
Representatives like Jackie Speier have been advocating for a change to the policy on Capitol Hill and a redesign of the process that staffers have to go through when reporting sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.
One thing is for sure, that these disgusting Democrats who only harass their employees need to be thrown out of Washington and processes be put in place so things like what Payne had to go through never happen again.