The work culture in the second largest union in the U.S. is allegedly endemic with sexual misconduct and harassment, a former union employee told The Washington Free Beacon.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) suspended Executive Vice President Scott Courtney on Monday for potentially violating the organization’s ethical code and nepotism policy, Bloomberg reports.
Courtney earned a reputation for sleeping with his female staffers, who later received promotions. He was suspended after marrying one of his staffers, raising questions “relating to a romantic relationship between a staff person and a supervisor,” according to a staff email obtained by Bloomberg.
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, seven current and former SEIU union employees corroborated Courtney’s history of organizational philandering. Two people said nothing was done after they reported instances of sexual harassment to the union.
“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised at all given the broad environment of misogyny at [the union],” the former SEIU employee told the Free Beacon on Courtney’s suspension. “I personally experienced sexual harassment from two people in supervisory positions.”
She reported both supervisors to the union’s human resources department, but didn’t see any action taken other than one HR rep thanking her for speaking up. The former employee felt the HR department was more committed to protecting the union’s image rather than its employees.
“His behavior didn’t change. He had an attitude of entitlement and misogyny and the feeling he could get away with really egregious comments,” she told the Free Beacon. “Most HR processes for investigating sexual harassment [represent] a culture of protecting the organization.”
The union declined to speak to the Free Beacon on allegations that it promotes a culture of sexual harassment.
“SEIU takes all questions related to conduct of elected officers very seriously. I can confirm that [SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry] has suspended International Executive Vice President Scott Courtney from his assigned duties as an officer of SEIU,” a union spokeswoman told the Free Beacon in an email. “This decision was made as part of an on-going inquiry that was called for by President Henry. As this inquiry is ongoing, no conclusions have been reached as yet and we continue to gather information.”
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