UNITE HERE Local 1 targeted state Rep. Mary Moylan (D-Des Plaines) with a new ad Wednesday, alleging that the lawmaker made light of a casino worker's claim of sexual harassment at the workplace.
The Rivers Casino buffet server alleges that when she was sexually harassed by a patron at her workplace, higher ups at the facility "took no action" on the complaint, according to the ad, prompting her to contact Moylan's office for further assistance. The union alleges that Moylan "laughed after [the] 21 year-old waitress came forward to share her story of sexual harassment." Moylan's district includes the suburb of Des Plaines, where Rivers Casino is located.
"Representative Moylan's behavior demonstrates a need for a very public challenge," says UNITE HERE Local 1 President Karen Kent. "We need to show our daughters, nieces, friends and colleagues that we are behind them, that we believe in them, that we've been there, and we're going to end it. I invite leaders, entrepreneurs, activists, public officials to step up and support the young women, the women with the fewest resources, who are making their way in the world."
Meanwhile, Moylan is balking at the union's claims.
Alleging that UNITE HERE has "a long history of threatening behavior and spreading lies," Moylan is demanding an apology from the union for the "libelous claims" and "attempted blackmail" he says are behind the labor group's advertising campaign. The second term legislator, who represents the 55th district, says he "took all the necessary steps" to investigate the waitress's claims, adding that he "take[s] sexual assault and allegations about sexual assault very seriously."
"After hearing the story of an employee at Rivers Casino, I sought further details about the situation to find out what happened and to make sure I had all the facts," Moylan detailed via statement. "I immediately reached out to Rivers Casino to dig deeper into the concerns and allegations of a former employee. I asked the casino managers if they reviewed the videos from the security cameras, and if they talked to the employee's supervisors and other co-workers. According to the casino, neither the video nor the questioning of fellow co-workers revealed any evidence of wrongdoing.
"During my meeting with the former employee, I asked her if she had filed a police report. When she indicated that she hadn't, I encouraged her to make a report and file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission so the proper authorities could investigate these serious allegations. To my knowledge, she still has not taken those steps," Moylan added.
The lawmaker also provided Progress Illinois with a letter, dated January 10, 2016, that was sent to his office from Rivers Casino. The letter states that the waitress failed to advise her supervisor of the incident, but once supervisors were alerted of the situation, seven interviews were conducted and videos, photos and customer receipts were reviewed. The casino's CEO Greg Carlin, who penned the letter, also alleged that the worker was "well aware" of the ongoing investigation into the incident when she visited Moylan's office, having been interviewed about the allegations prior to, as well as after, her trip to the lawmaker's office. Ultimately, back in November,
according to Carlin, a casino patron was permanently banned from the facility as a result of their investigation into the harassment allegations.
The ad in question is part of a larger roll out of UNITE HERE's Come Forward campaign, which is meant to act as a support for women who report instances of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Here is a look at the TV ad, which the union says they are planning to air on local television in the Chicagoland area:
Kent also issued an open letter to the women of Illinois, chastising Moylan and calling on them to support women "with the fewest resources" in reporting instances of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, the Chicago and suburban lawmaker hinted at the possibility of taking further action against UNITE HERE as a result of the allegations lodged in their new ad. In a statement, Moylan noted that the union has been "successfully sued" in the past for "making false accusations," adding that "they should be held accountable."
As a husband and a father, I am offended that this group would spread dangerous lies and accusations about such a serious issue. They have abandoned any regard for the truth and are instead exploiting a young woman's personal anguish for their own gain. Unite Here owes an apology to everyone it has brought into these disgraceful allegations, especially to the young woman it used in order to advance its agenda. This union has a history of fraud, malice and pressuring women into telling very personal, tragic and explicit stories to further their agenda.
The union has been successfully sued in the past for maliciously making false accusations, and a former organizer for Unite Here characterized the union as 'extremely cult-like and extremely manipulative,' calling into question the legitimacy and integrity of this union. The union was also found to have kept workers' personal stories in a database so the information could be used to manipulate those employees in the future. The actions of this union's members are deplorable, and they should be held accountable.