Dozens of former staffers for Radical Democrat Representative Pramila Jayapal have accused the lawmaker of creating a “toxic and abusive workplace calling her actions “contrary to the public expectation she has set for others.”
Jayapal, a supposed advocate for workplace conditions and progressive policies, is now being accused of running a “dysfunctional and volatile” workplace for her staffers.
The new shocking report is part of 3 month-long investigation by Buzzfeed News. The news site cited 14 former staffers who all spoke unanimously due to fears of intimidation and retaliation by Jayapal and the Democrats.
The former staffers claimed that Jayapal castigated her staff in front of others, constantly changed expectations, and demanded exhausting hours from her staff. Jayapals office has the highest staff turnover rates in the House of Representatives since she was sworn into office in 2017. Five of the current 16 staffers her office employs have worked more than two years with her, and the rest just recently started.
One of the staffers said – I’ve worked in bad environments before, and I have worked in some awful environments before for some awful people. I’ve been colleagues with some awful people,” the staffer went on to say. “I have never worked in a place that has made me so miserable and so not excited for public service as Pramila Jayapal’s office.”
Another staffer said – “it’s not sustainable to stay for too long.”
A third staffer said that Jayapal fights for workers elsewhere but fails to see and recognize her own staff as humans.
She is also being accused of underpaying her staff. A former staffer noted that a junior position at AOC’s office gets paid 52K starting off means that it’s possible for a junior staffer in DC to get paid a decent wage.
Another shocking accusation is that in 2020 Jayapal fired two staffers without severance then proceeded to try to rehire one of them for the job that was cut plus the other position combined for the same pay.
A spokesman for Jayapal told reporters that the decision was not to pay employees more was to “best utilize” office resources, noting the staffers were given six weeks’ notice of this decision.
The spokesman Chris Evans went on to defend the congresswoman and her office, rebuking the reports of former staffers. He pushed back on claims from former colleagues that they needed therapy to work for the congresswoman, saying – “It is horrible to imply that accessing mental health services is a bad thing,” he went on to say, “The Congresswoman has worked to destigmatize mental health care and pushes hard to ensure every person has the full range of care they need.”
Also, Lilah Pomerance, Jayapal’s chief of staff, accused BuzzFeed News of “cherry-picking” stories that lacked context and tried to use the congresswoman’s race to defend her by saying the staffers only attacked her because of “ugly stereotypes.”
Pomerance said in a statement, “Women of color are often unjustly targeted, regularly held to higher standards than their male colleagues, and always put under a sexist microscope,”