The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, has issued a public response to the allegations of sexual harassment against its national president, J. David Cox.
The announcement was published today on AFGE’s website in response to an article about the allegations that Bloomberg Businessweek published over the weekend.
In the article, Bloomberg reported that ten individuals either experienced or witnessed instances of sexual harassment by Cox.
Brett Copeland was one former employee with the union who was quoted in the article. He said that when he and Cox were on the way to a hotel, Cox “leaned in for a hug” and then licked his ear. “It was embarrassing, and it was disgusting, and it was kind of unbelievable that it happened,” Copeland told Bloomberg.
Cox has denied all of the allegations, however, he has taken a leave of absence while AFGE conducts an investigation.
Statement from AFGE
AFGE said in its statement that it took “immediate action” when it learned of the accusations. The union added, “These allegations, if true, are abhorrent to all of us and contrary to AFGE’s mission and values.”
AFGE also said that when Cox was informed of the allegations he “immediately authorized an investigation, from which he simultaneously recused himself.”
AFGE said that the matter was put before the Legal Rights Committee of AFGE’s National Executive Council which authorized the hiring of an independent, outside investigator.
National Secretary-Treasurer Everett Kelley will take over Cox’s duties while the investigation is conducted and he remains on the leave of absence. There was no indication in the statement issued by AFGE as to how long the investigation is expected to last.
AFGE also said, “We are wholly committed to a thorough, fair, and expeditious investigation that will move forward in a way that’s consistent with AFGE’s values and ensures a safe, open working environment for all of our employees.”