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FRESHFARM workers ratify union agreement
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 15, 2024

Board of Trustees chair representing former mayoral aide accused of sexual harassment

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights leads a meeting in May.

Board of Trustees Chair and attorney Grace Speights is representing a former top mayoral adviser who allegedly sexually harassed a D.C. employee, according to the Washington Post.

A Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel investigation found that John Falcicchio, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s former deputy mayor and chief of staff, “more likely than not” sexually harassed a D.C. employee, according to the investigative report released last week. Speights is a partner for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm — which often handles workplace misconduct cases, according to the Morgan Lewis website — and leads the University’s 20-person decision-making body as the chair of the Board.

University spokesperson Julia Metjian declined to comment on Speights’ representation of Falcicchio. Speights did not immediately return a request for comment.

The MOLC investigation — which began in early March, roughly a week before Falcicchio resigned from his position — found reports that Falcicchio made “unwelcome” physical sexual advances to an employee working in the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development in September and October 2022 were substantiated. The report states Falcicchio also sent thousands of “unwanted, sexually-explicit” messages to the employee between September and March.

The MOLC also investigated allegations like Falcicchio favoring employees based on attraction, organizing bullying of the complainant for rejecting his sexual advances and moving the complainant to work at a different unit after rejecting his sexual advances, but the investigation was unable to substantiate the claims, according to the report.

A second D.C. employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against Falcicchio in March, according to the Katz Banks Kumin website, the complainant’s lawyers. The MOLC’s investigation into the second complainant’s allegations is ongoing, according to DCist/WAMU.

More than half of D.C. Council members — including Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto, who represents the area encompassing Foggy Bottom — called for an independent, third-party investigation of the workplace harassment allegations to deepen the city’s evaluation of the complaints this week, according to DCist/WAMU.

Speights leads Morgan Lewis’ global labor and employment practice and won $2.6 million for PBS in 2020 after the network terminated former host Tavis Smiley for sexual misconduct allegations against subordinate employees. Smiley sued PBS two months later, claiming his termination was due to racial discrimination.

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About the Contributor
Ianne Salvosa, News Editor
Ianne Salvosa is a junior majoring in journalism and international affairs from Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. She is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editor for the Administration and Finance beat. She previously served as an assistant news editor for the Administration and Finance beat and a contributing news editor for the Academics and Administration beats for Vol. 119.
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