Congresswoman Esty’s statement to article in the Connecticut Post regarding Tony Baker
CHESHIRE, CT –Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-05) released the following statement tonight:
In the spring of 2016, I was horrified and angry to learn that a promising, dedicated former employee of mine was harassed and harmed by my then (now former) chief of staff. I am sorry that I failed to protect her and provide her with the safe and respectful work environment that every employee deserves. I am sorry that I hurt her, her friends, family, and co-workers, and many of my present and former staffers.
To address the immediate crisis, I demanded counseling for my offending chief of staff and I launched an internal review of management policy and practices and an investigation into what was going on in the office. I also took a hard look at how I allowed my office to be run.
Unfortunately, through the review process I learned that the threat of violence was not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of behavior that victimized many of the women on my staff. At which point, I hired a new chief of staff, made changes to senior staff, changed employment policy, and instituted mandatory harassment trainings.
To this survivor, and to anyone else on my team who was hurt by my failure to see what was going on in my office, I am so sorry.
I’ve asked myself over and over again, how did I not see this? How could I have let down so many people?
Equality and fairness are values I’ve held long before I came to Congress. Now that I am in Congress, it is my responsibility to run an office that is not only safe, but upholds those values and respects staff and their work on behalf of the people of the 5th Congressional District. I’m inspired by the courage this young woman is demonstrating by speaking up – in the one company town of DC – to say MeToo.
It took guts for my former staffer, this survivor, to speak up, and I want to support her and other survivors. I know that Survivors come first – we need to believe them and support them. And we need to include survivors and allies alike in the conversation about how to implement the changes necessary both in Congress and more broadly to prevent this from happening again.
I know firsthand that we need stronger workplace protections, and to provide employees with a platform to raise concerns. But that’s not enough. Those concerns must be listened to. And people in power must take action.
Now that I know, I must do better. We all must do better.