VA supervisor says she was demoted for reporting sexual harassment

- A former supervisor at the District's Veteran Affairs Medical Center said she was sexually harassed by a superior and then faced retaliation for reporting the incident.

Antionette Gipson-Taylor reported that she was sexually harassed during a meeting with a superior in October of 2016. At the time, she was a supervisor in the business office at the District’s Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

The VA confirmed to FOX 5 that it investigated Gipson-Taylor’s report, and according to its fact finding analysis, her boss reportedly admitted to touching her knee when he stood up. But Gipson-Taylor said her boss did more than just touch her knee.

“We were in a meeting and he was standing up and I told him, ‘Come on, you can sit down’ because he was standing up and he placed his hand on my thigh and when I asked him, I said, ‘Can you move your hand off my thigh?’ I said, ‘What are you doing? Why did you do that?’ He said, ‘Why not?’ So we left the meeting (and) I filed a complaint,” Gipson-Taylor detailed.

Despite her boss reportedly admitting to touching her knee and the report indicating that three other employees complained about lewd comments made by Gipson-Taylor’s boss, the VA said it found Gipson-Taylor’s allegations to be unsubstantiated.

“I was unable to let it go. I was hurt, I was upset and I just could not continue on,” Gipson-Taylor said. “It's very hurtful, it's painful to see that they're treating employees this way especially with my father being a veteran.”

After she reported the incident, Gipson-Taylor said she was reassigned to several other departments then demoted from supervisor to personal assistant. FOX 5 reached out to the VA about Gipson-Taylor’s report and they stated they were conducting an additional review as part of their investigation. 

"We take these allegations seriously and once learning of them we initiated an immediate investigation,” Department of Veteran Affairs Press Secretary Curt Cashour said in a written statement. “While this investigation continues, the two employees are no longer working in the same area and the employee under investigation has been directed to have no interaction with the other employee."

The VA admitted Gipson-Taylor's complaints were not handled expeditiously and that better communication may have prevented her from filing additional complaints. The VA also admitted there were some concerns with their initial fact finding effort, which is why they've reopened the investigation.

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