Grijalva's office paid out $48K in workplace settlement

Grijalva's office paid out $48K in workplace settlement
© Greg Nash

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) arranged for a top staffer to be given a "severance package" worth $48,395 after she threatened a lawsuit alleging Grijalva was often drunk at work and created a hostile work environment.

The Washington Times reported Tuesday that the House Employment Counsel negotiated the deal with the staffer, who received the equivalent of five months' salary and agreed to drop the lawsuit.

The settlement was negotiated after Grijalva's office stopped paying the female staffer in order to force her to the table, Tuscon.com reports. The staffer, whose name was not released, had only been employed by the Democratic lawmaker's office for three months.

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In a statement to Tuscon.com, the Arizona lawmaker stressed that none of the accusations against him were sexual in nature, a clear reference to allegations that have ensnared other members of Congress recently, including Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenOvernight Health Care: House Dems launch major drug pricing investigation | Judge blocks Trump contraception rule rollback | Booker tries to shake doubts about pharmaceutical ties ahead of 2020 | FDA to resume high-risk food inspections Booker tries to shake doubts about pharmaceutical ties ahead of 2020 The reality check Democrats need to win in 2020 MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersBrenda Jones sworn into House for final weeks of 2018 GOP approves rule for Don Young Michigan New Members 2019 MORE Jr. (D-Mich.).

"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," Grijalva said in a statement.

"Under the terms of the agreement, had there been an allegation of sexual harassment, the employee would have been free to report it," he added.

Melanie Sloan, the Washington, D.C., ethics lawyer who came forward with accusations against Conyers, told The Washington Times that Grijalva's story was another example of congressional offices covering for members' inappropriate behavior.

“It seems like all of these House bodies are designed to help cover for members of Congress,” said Sloan. “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.”