Source: New Boston Post
BOSTON — Some of the gossip and harassment that preceded Rep. Diana DiZoglio’s termination from her job as a legislative aide seven years ago came from elected officials still serving on Beacon Hill today, the Methuen Democrat said in a television interview.
DiZoglio said on the House floor last week that she signed a nondisclosure and non-disparagement agreement to receive severance pay when she was fired by former Rep. Paul Adams, an Andover Republican, in 2011.
In her speech last Thursday, DiZoglio said she was fired after gossip and rumors that she had engaged in inappropriate behavior spread throughout the State House, despite an investigation that discredited them.
On WGBH’s Greater Boston Monday, DiZoglio said she experienced harassment as “a result of the gossip,” which “eventually actually led to my being terminated.”
“I think she was very poorly treated overall,” Rep. David DeCoste, a Norwell Republican, said during his own radio appearance Monday, on WATD.
Asked by host Jim Braude if anyone who subjected her to harassment or gossip was “still in the House today,” DiZoglio said, “I believe so, yes.” She said yes when Braude asked if any of those people were elected officials, and declined to name them.
“I didn’t come forward to accuse or attack anybody,” she said. “I came forward to make sure that the policies change.”
The House on Thursday adopted a package of rules intended to improve how the body responds to workplace harassment complaints, including language restricting the future use of sexual harassment settlement agreements, allowing them only on request of the person making the claim and for a finite period of time.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, first elected to the speakership in 2009, has said 33 departing House staffers during his tenure signed nondisclosures as part of a process to receive severance. Fifteen of those 33 signed the agreements when they were let go in a round of layoffs in 2009, and none of the agreements were to settle claims of sexual harassment, DeLeo has said.
DiZoglio, who had pushed for a ban on nondisclosure agreements, said she’s “very happy” with the policies that were ultimately adopted.
“We need to find a better way to make sure that the confidentiality of the victim is protected, without allowing public tax dollars to be used to protect not only the reputation of politicians and their staffers who might be conducting or involved in these inappropriate behaviors, and I think that that was the point that we were able to get across and we still need to address moving forward,” she said.
During the debate on the new rules, Rep. Angelo Scaccia said the House should call on Attorney General Maura Healey to investigate the use of nondisclosure agreements.
Healey said Sunday that her office had not been asked to look into the matter.
“I don’t have the details of that and I’m not sure that we know specifically what’s been alleged or what the details are there,” Healey said.
DiZoglio said on WGBH that the decision whether to investigate was up to Healey.
“If she chooses to investigate, I would encourage her to do so,” DiZoglio said. “I’m a state rep, I did my duty. I came forward and shared my experience to try to help.”
DeCoste said that Scaccia “certainly asked the Attorney General Healey to take a closer look at everything that’s going on.” Speaking to the nondisclosure agreements, DeCoste said, “Really we don’t know what they’re about,” including how much was paid out to former employees.