Sunday, May 19, 2024
Sunday, May 19, 2024

Kennedy calls on Labor Secretary to condemn FDIC worker abuses, calls for Gruenberg resignation

Submitted by United States Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana

WASHINGTON (May 9, 2024) – Senator John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Appropriations and Banking Committees, today questioned acting Labor Secretary Julie Su about an independent report that found that “the FDIC has failed to provide a workplace safe from sexual harassment, discrimination, and other interpersonal misconduct.”

After confirming to Kennedy that she is “passionate” about protecting and supporting America’s employees and those at the FDIC, Su said that she had not seen the report outlining the years-long abuses at the agency, which has received extensive news coverage.

The new report documents “FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg’s reputation for having a temper, as well as at least one instance in 2008 of his having ‘castigated’ a senior FDIC executive.”

“This is just [as] egregious as I’ve ever seen and I suspect [as] you’ve ever seen. . . . I’m asking you what’s your plan? Are you going to call for Martin Gruenberg, who runs the place, to resign? He’s been there since 2005. And one of two things are going on: If he says he didn’t know about it, he’s like a rock—only dumber. Or, he condoned this behavior. For the Biden administration, does ‘Me Too’ apply except at the FDIC? Is that what you’re saying?” asked Kennedy.

“Don’t you think you have a moral imperative to ask Mr. Gruenberg to resign, to quit?” he continued.

In response, Su did not call on FDIC Chair Martin Gruenbueg to resign.

“I would say—I think you said—that a complaint had been made. . . . I’m happy to make sure that the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] is aware that there is a case like this,” she said.

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Later, Kennedy spoke with Su again and asked, “You’re kind of waffling on me, like, ‘Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ Let me ask you this question because I’m going to run out of time: Are you or are you not going to call for Martin Gruenberg . . . and the senior leadership over there to resign?”

Again, Su declined to call on Gruenberg to resign or offer any steps that the Department of Labor would take to protect workers from abuses documented at the FDIC.

The unwillingness of President Joe Biden’s acting Labor Secretary to call for Gruenberg’s resignation is seemingly at odds with the president’s 2021 vow to fire any staffer who treated another colleague with disrespect “on the spot.”

Background

  • In Nov. 2023, Kennedy questioned Gruenberg at a Senate Banking Committee Hearing about reports indicating that the chairman had failed to address sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior within the agency. He called on Gruenberg to resign in light of the reports.
  • The May 2024 independent report found that:
  • “for far too many employees and for far too long, the FDIC has failed to provide a workplace safe from sexual harassment, discrimination, and other interpersonal misconduct.”
  • “a patriarchal, insular, and risk-averse culture has contributed to the conditions that allowed for this workplace misconduct to occur and persist.”
  • “a widespread fear of retaliation, as well as a lack of clarity and credibility around internal reporting channels, has led to an under-reporting of workplace misconduct over the years.”
  • “Management’s responses to allegations of misconduct, as well as the culture and conditions that gave rise to them, have been insufficient and ineffective.”
  • “To fully and effectively address this conduct and these conditions, we believe cultural and structural change is necessary.”
  • “according to the FDIC’s own public reporting, of the ninety-two harassment complaints made through its Anti-Harassment Program in the nine year period from 2015 to 2023, not a single one resulted in removal, reductions in grade or pay, or any discipline more serious than a suspension.”

News, press releases, press conferences, and opinions from Louisiana United States Senators, Louisiana United States House of Representatives District 3, Louisiana Governor, Louisiana State Senators from Districts 22 and 23, and Louisiana State Representatives from Districts 43 and 49.

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