Earlier today JOFA released a statement by their board president, Pam Scheininger. Here’s my response.
This statement is nothing but a pack of lies.
Firstly, what does mutual mean in the context of the situation? How could there be a truly mutual decision when one side is firing the other for reporting sexual harassment and making severance contingent on the NDA? That’s not mutual, that’s an incredible imbalance of power. An employee, after experiencing serious sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting, is being fired and given a choice between getting fired with nothing and getting fired with severance is going to choose severance, and you know that. That doesn’t make it any more mutual than its a mutual decision between a mugger and their victim to hand over their wallet and phone.
Second, that investigation was garbage and JOFA knows it. Neither of the women were contacted as part of the investigation, and the reason JOFA thought they could get away with that was because of the NDAs each had been forced to sign. But since they mention the investigation, why not release the report so we can all see what the investigation actually consisted of, who the investigators were, and how they reached their decision?
Third, JOFA absolutely knew about the second (actually first chronologically) victim seeing as they had fired her with an NDA the day she reported her harassment to the board.
Fourth, the policy JOFA adopted in 2019 was laughable. It was boilerplate. There was absolutely no effort put into it at all despite being well aware of available resources for actually crafting an anti-harassment policy to address what had actually happened at JOFA. Throwing up a boilerplate harassment policy and placing all responsibility for solving the problem on victims reporting is less than meaningless considering JOFA’s history of firing sexual harassment victims for reporting.
Fifth, JOFA really shouldn’t be bragging about joining SRE seeing as they were kicked out for being malfeasant and refusing to comply with SRE’s new NDA policy.
Sixth, JOFA can’t with a straight face claim it naively didn’t know that NDAs were improper practice. When the second NDA was issued, New York State was actively in the process of banning their use precisely because they were instruments of coverup in sexual harassment case. JOFA can’t honestly claim to be a feminist organization while also claiming they don’t know how NDAs are used to silence victims of sexual harassment.
Seventh, JOFA touting it’s “good work” is like asking Mary Todd Lincoln how she enjoyed the play. It has always been my operating principle that the second an institution becomes more important than the people it serves it no longer deserves to exist. That’s what happened here. JOFA the institution became more important than the women it served. The second they covered up sexual harassment and forced employees into a nondisclosure agreement they lost your right to exist. Their other work means nothing in light of what they did here.
Finally, the members of the board at the time who were complicit in this coverup don’t get to just walk away from this. Every single one of them who were on the board at the time should resign in disgrace.