Chair Grijalva Calls on President Trump to Withdraw Nomination of Barry Myers to Head NOAA Over Sexual Harassment Settlement Revelations

Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today called on President Trump to withdraw the nomination of Barry Myers to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Myers is the former chief executive of AccuWeather, which paid out a recently reported $290,000 settlement as part of an agreement that states the company subjected women to “sexual harassment and a hostile work environment” during his tenure.

As the Washington Post recently reported:

The agreement alleges that AccuWeather did “not exercise reasonable care to prevent and correct” the improper treatment and harassment against women there. It includes a letter that was sent to former employees who worked at AccuWeather between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 21, 2017, who were notified they were eligible to receive a payment of at least $7,250 as part of the settlement.

“I call on President Trump to withdraw Barry Myers’ nomination to head NOAA and nominate a leader who can improve the agency’s troubling record on harassment and assault,” Grijalva said today. “Federal employees have been subjected to the president’s unpopular ideas about sexual harassment and women in the workplace for the past two years. Trump’s nomination of Mr. Myers sends the wrong message about his care for the agencies and people he oversees. He has a chance to do much better, and he should take it.”

NOAA has faced calls to improve its internal policies on sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH) after a years-long pattern of documented abuses. Oceanographer Julia O’Hern published a widely read Washington Post essay in 2015 documenting a pattern of groping, abuse and institutional indifference at NOAA, which helped spur Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) to include language in the National Defense Authorization Act the following year directing NOAA to develop stronger SASH prevention measures and update personnel practices.

Prompted by that law, Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, assistant secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere, recently signed an administrative order laying out a comprehensive SASH reduction approach across NOAA. Putting someone like Myers in charge of NOAA when the agency is supposed to be taking proactive steps to address a longstanding culture of sexual harassment, Grijalva said, would be a needless blunder and a disservice to the public.

Despite the recent order, NOAA officials continue to face accusations of sexual harassment and retaliation against subordinates, Grijalva pointed out. The agency, he said, requires leaders able to help the agency transition to a less toxic, more employee-friendly culture.

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