The headline on the story about this at the Kansas City Star makes it sound as if congressional candidate Andrea Ramsey has just been accused of sexual harassment and is dropping out because of the allegation. The story is actually a bit more complicated than that. Ramsay, who is a first-time candidate and a Democrat, is dropping out because of an accusation that dates back to 2005 which went through mediation and was settled back in 2006.
The lawsuit has been circulating in Kansas political circles as the first-time candidate runs for Congress amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked the political, entertainment and journalism industries…
In the EEOC complaint, which alleged sex discrimination and retaliation by LabOne, Funkhouser accused Ramsey of subjecting him to “unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos” beginning in September 2004, when he was a LabOne human resources manager.
In late March 2005, Ramsey made sexual advances toward him on a business trip, Funkhouser alleged in the complaint.
“After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me,” he wrote. “In the office she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me.”
Before he rejected her advances, Ramsey “repeatedly told me she heard great things from others about my performance,” Funkhouser wrote. “After I rejected her, she told me she now was hearing bad things about my performance and on June 13, 2005, terminated my employment.”
The EEOC did not find sufficient proof that Funkhouser had been fired in retaliation and closed his case. He sued and, after mediation, settled with the company. For her part, Ramsey wrote a piece for the paper explaining her decision but denying any wrongdoing. She points out she was not a party to the lawsuit and did not agree to a settlement:
Twelve years ago, I eliminated an employee’s position. That man decided to bring a lawsuit against the company (not against me). He named me in the allegations, claiming I fired him because he refused to have sex with me. That is a lie. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated the allegations and decided not to pursue the complaint; the man later decided to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit. Because I wasn’t a named party, I didn’t have any opportunity to participate in its resolution.
I have been swept up in decisions without due process. A man sued my company twelve years ago and made false accusations against me. Had the false allegations been brought against me directly, I would have fought to exonerate my name and my reputation. I would have sued the disgruntled, vindictive employee for defamation. Now, twelve years later this suit is being used to force me out of my race for Congress. Let me be clear: I never engaged in any of the alleged behavior. And the due process that I love, that drew me to the field of law, is totally denied…
In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard. For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.
It’s interesting how reversing the gender roles changes the dynamic here. How does the Democratic standard of “believe all women” apply in a situation where the woman is the alleged harasser but denies the allegation against her?
It sounds like the DCCC and Emily’s List decided to throw Ramsay under the bus based on this decade-old settlement, a settlement over which she had no control. Does that mean they don’t believe her denials or do the details not really matter anymore? Companies often agree to settle nuisance lawsuits because the cost of fighting them is more than the cost of settling. Was that the case here? Did the DCCC or Emily’s List even look into it?