Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Former Aide Alleges Gillibrand's Office Mishandled Sexual Harassment Complaint

Former Aide Alleges Gillibrand's Office Mishandled Sexual Harassment Complaint

An ex-aide to New York Senator and 2020 candidate Kirsten Gillibrand has accused her former employer of hypocrisy, arguing that the Congresswoman positioned herself as a staunch advocate of the #MeToo movement, even as her office minimized and mishandled sexual harassment complaints. Kirsten Gillibrand of NY - one of the most vocal advocates of the #MeToo movement who also led the charge in calling for fellow Democratic Sen.

"When I had the courage to speak up about my harasser, I was belittled by her office and treated like an inconvenience", the woman said of Gillibrand. The woman told Politico that she felt Gillibrand's reaction to sexual harassment allegations within her own office defied the Senator's believe-survivors political stance, and in August, she resigned.

The female staffer, who is in her mid-20s, told Politico about her experience in a story published Monday. The woman was not identified by the news organization.

The report stated that Gillibrand's advisor's asserted they did take the woman's initial claims seriously, launched an investigation and ultimately determined, "the allegations did not meet the standard of sexual harassment". The male staffer, Abbas Malik, was demoted but not fired.

She said the Senate office "immediately began another investigation and interviewed relevant witnesses, which has led to the office terminating the employee from staff last week". The aide lost his expected promotion but not his job.

The aide was sacked after Politico presented the office with additional allegations. Additionally, she claimed that Malik made crude and misogynistic comments about other female colleagues such as rating the appearances of potential female hires. "However, because the office did find unprofessional behavior that violated office policy, including derogatory comments, the office took strong disciplinary action against the employee in question and he was given a final warning", Gillibrand's communications director Whitney Brennan said in a statement to ABC News. Malik did not respond to requests for comment.

Gillibrand defended her office's handling of the incident in a statement to the news website.

"As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability", she said in the statement, Politico said.

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Gillibrand says, "That's exactly what happened at every step of this case past year". "I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today".

The staffer alleged the man retaliated against her after she reported the harassment.

The former aide said she was "deeply confused" and "saddened" by what she heard, prompting her to discuss the matter later in the afternoon with Fassler and Bradley.

The woman resigned from Gillibrand's office because of how her higher-ups handled the aftermath of the sexual harassment investigation, she said.

A Harris spokeswoman said in December that the Harris team was not aware of the allegations, which occurred while she was California's attorney general, but the state's Department of Justice had been informed about the claims three months before she left in 2017.

Then Politico spoke with ex-staffers, as the complainant suggested - none of whom the senator's people had bothered to contact.

Fassler allegedly told the woman that she had misstepped too and risked being fired, including when she "fed" alcohol to Malik in one instance when they grabbed drinks in the Capitol's courtyard.

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