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June 12, 2024

WATCH: In Hearing, Pressley Demands Accountability for Sexual Harassment, Uplifts Bill to Protect Workers

“I want every worker to know that we don’t just care about your labor, we give a damn about your lives. And every worker should be able to do their job with safety, dignity, and respect.”

Video (YouTube)

WASHINGTON – Today, in a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) renewed her calls for accountability and survivor-focused solutions following the damning reports of a toxic work environment at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Rep. Pressley also previewed the upcoming reintroduction of her bill, the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, to prevent workplace harassment and discrimination and enable accountability.

Last month, Rep. Pressley criticized FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg for failing to address reported persistent and widespread sexual harassment at the agency, and in turn jeopardizing critical financial regulations pending at the agency.

A transcript of Rep. Pressley’s line of questioning is available below and the full video is available here.

Transcript: In Hearing, Pressley Demands Accountability for Sexual Harassment, Uplifts Bill to Protect Workers

House Committee on Financial Services

June 12, 2024

REP. PRESSLEY: I remain deeply concerned about accountability and recourse following the inaction to address essential workers’ rights at the FDIC. I did not parse words when Mr. Gruenberg was before this committee, and I certainly won’t today. 

I appreciate that he has taken the appropriate step of tendering his resignation, effective immediately following Senate confirmation of his successor.

Let me be clear, those on the other side of the aisle do not come to this conversation in good faith. They see an opportunity to gut critical federal regulatory work and they are going after it.                   

That aside, let me be clear – the FDIC must prioritize recourse for workers and accountability for wrongdoers.     

Mr. Kim, based on this report, it’s just not clear to me who at the FDIC directly contributed to the recommendations section.

MR. KIM: Sorry, who directly contributed to the recommendation section?


MR. KIM: The report was entirely the work of the Cleary Gottlieb team, and we both reached our factual findings and the analysis and developed the recommendations.

REP. PRESSLEY:  Okay, let me just unpack that. I’ll be a bit more precise.

What role did employees, current or former, who were actually impacted by these adverse experiences at the FDIC play in contributing to the recommendations?

MR. KIM: Thank you for that clarification. Of course, all of our, the entirety of our report, are based on facts that we learned from speaking with people at the FDIC, current and former, as well as the documents.

We came in with no personal knowledge of what was going on at the FDIC, which is why we started in our remarks today to emphasize the emotion that we heard from people who are reporting. The entirety of the findings and the recommendations are based on what we learned from the FDIC.

In terms of the recommendations, there were many people within the FDIC, particularly those who were part of employee resource groups, who had very good ideas about what to do and we understood that they contributed in part to the development of the action plan.

But in our interviews with them, we also asked them, those who had experienced these issues, those who were part of the process, asked them, “how do you think this could be improved?” And a lot of that was reflected in our recommendations as well.

REP. PRESSLEY: Okay. I have some other questions I need to get to, but that is so critically important. It’s essential to healing for those who are adversely impacted.

And I’m just a firm believer that those closest to the pain should be closest to the power driving and informing the policymaking. And that is certainly true for survivors’ justice.

So I hope that they will continue to be actively engaged and their input solicited, so important that you’re partnering with them because they’re experts in addressing sexual harassment in protecting workers’ rights.

Mr. Kim, in the report it states that, “FDIC did not concur with two of OIG’s recommendations on proportionate and consistent disciplinary action for substantiated harassment.”

What were two recommendations and why did the FDIC oppose them?     

MR. KIM: We understand that after the OIG report, Office of Inspector General report in 2020, that the FDIC took issue with some—

REP. PRESSLEY: I’m sorry, Mr. Kim,I’m running out of time so could you just tell me—

MR. KIM: We don’t know exactly on what basis the FDIC resisted those.

REP. PRESSLEY: Okay. All right. Well, no one, and I repeat, no one, should ever be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.

This is an issue that affects people of all walks of life, in workplaces throughout America.

And that is why I will be reintroducing the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act.

This is anti-harassment, survivor-focused legislation that will codify critical changes to prevent workplace harassment and discrimination, and enable workers to seek accountability and justice.

It was drafted in close partnership with survivors, civil rights lawyers, and workers’ rights advocates.

This bill prohibits mandatory arbitration and non-disclosure agreements from covering up harassment; it expands the jurisdiction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and it outlines a clear legal pathway for survivors to seek legal redress through the court system.

The BE HEARD in the Workplace Act is essential to protecting workers and ensuring accountability for discrimination, harassment, and abuse.

I want every worker to know that we don’t just care about your labor, we give a damn about your lives. And every worker should be able to do their job with safety, dignity, and respect.