June 28, 2023 | Press Release

Nadeau Bill Would Require Independent Investigator in Sexual Harassment Complaints v. Top District Employees 

Second bill in the works would re-examine complaints against former deputy mayor 


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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau, filed legislation Wednesday to address how sexual harassment complaints against mayoral appointees should be handled. Nadeau is also preparing an emergency bill that would apply retroactively to complaints against John Falcicchio, the former chief of staff and deputy mayor for planning and economic development. That legislation is expected later this week or early next week. 

“Both bills are an opportunity to create transparency, protect workers, and to foster public trust,” Nadeau said. “We have a responsibility to victims, to workers, and to the public to hold people accountable, especially people in positions of authority.” 

The legislation introduced Wednesday would require the District’s inspector general to hire outside, independent counsel to investigate sexual harassment complaints against mayoral appointees, including deputy mayors, agency and sub-agency heads, and those appointed by the mayor to boards and commissions. This first “permanent” legislation would apply to future complaints only. 

The legislation will be introduced at the Council’s July 11 meeting, though no discussion is expected as it will be assigned to a committee for a hearing, likely in the fall, after the Council’s summer recess. 

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and councilmembers Christina Henderson, Robert White, Anita Bonds, Brooke Pinto, Janeese Lewis George, Zachary Parker, Charles Allen, Vincent Gray co-introduced the bill with Nadeau. 

“No employee should feel unsafe in their workplace,” Nadeau said. “No employee should be subjected to sexual harassment, especially by those in positions of authority and influence. No employee should fear retribution – or, just as bad, inaction – for coming forward.” 

Nadeau said she is still working on a second piece of legislation and would file it before next Thursday’s filing deadline for emergency bills to be taken up at the July 11 meeting. As emergency legislation, it could receive a vote and become law that day. The legislation would directly address the at least two complaints against Falcicchio and concerns that the investigations should have been conducted by independent counsel, not by the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, which reports directly to the Mayor. One investigation has been completed and was released last weekend and the other is in progress. 

While not yet finalized, Nadeau said any forthcoming emergency legislation would similarly seek to direct the Office of the Inspector General to hire an independent counsel to conduct a review of the relevant investigations conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel and could include investigating some allegations that the Mayor’s counsel did not investigate, saying they were outside of the scope of what they were asked to investigate. For example, the report indicates there were allegations of irregular hiring practices, promotions of employees rumored to have tolerated sexual advances, and bullying, but it did not investigate those. 

Nadeau says it is not her intent to have the independent counsel re-do the investigations into the specific complaints out of concern for putting victims through yet one more uncomfortable process.  

“What these women went through – and we have every reason to expect there could be more complaints forthcoming – is horrific,” Nadeau said. “They and all 36,000 of their fellow workers in District government deserve a complete and thorough review of those investigations and of the culture and procedural breakdowns that allowed it to happen in the first place.” 


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