The office of Philadelphia City Council member Brian O’Neill, the last remaining Republican on the council, has come under scrutiny after firing a staff member who reported sexual harassment. The former administrative assistant, Linda Trush, filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that she was repeatedly sexually harassed by a co-worker and faced a hostile work environment before being unlawfully terminated from her job.
According to court documents, Trush accused a co-worker of sexual harassment in 2014 and continued to face harassment until the co-worker was transferred to a different department in 2015. Trush claimed that the co-worker kissed her face, put his hands down her pants, and made inappropriate comments. When she threatened to report him, he warned her that she would lose her job if she did.
Trush’s mental health deteriorated after the harassment, leading to depression and panic attacks. In November 2016, she had a post-traumatic stress breakdown and informed her husband about the situation. Her husband contacted Councilman O’Neill, who assured them that the co-worker was a “predator who needed to be stopped.” Trush reported the harassment to O’Neill, but upon her return to work after a leave of absence for mental health treatment, she discovered that no investigation had been initiated, and she would be working in the same office as her harasser.
Trush requested that her co-worker be moved to another office, but instead, she was reassigned to City Hall, an hour away from her home. The new office environment was also hostile, with Trush no longer reporting directly to O’Neill and facing difficulties with office management. Despite several requests for an update on her harassment report, Trush received a letter stating that the claims could not be substantiated.
One month after being reassigned, Trush was terminated from her position. She believed that the termination was retaliation for her complaint. When she asked her new manager for an explanation, they responded, “Maybe you shouldn’t have made a complaint.”
The city has denied Trush’s allegations of harassment and stated that it was unable to substantiate her claims. The case is still pending, and the city declined to comment further due to ongoing litigation.
O’Neill, who represents northeast Philadelphia, is the last remaining Republican on the council after this month’s elections. Two of the council’s at-large seats, historically reserved for Republicans, were won by candidates from the Working Families Party (WFP) in 2019 and this year’s election. The WFP campaigned on shutting out GOP council candidates, while the Philadelphia Democratic Party openly opposed the party’s candidates in this cycle.
The firing of Trush raises concerns about workplace harassment and retaliation. It highlights the importance of creating a safe and supportive work environment for all employees. The outcome of this lawsuit will determine whether justice is served for Trush and whether there will be accountability for those responsible for the alleged harassment and wrongful termination.
In conclusion, the firing of a staff member who reported sexual harassment in Philadelphia City Council member Brian O’Neill’s office has sparked controversy. The former employee, Linda Trush, filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that she faced severe and pervasive sexual harassment and was unlawfully terminated from her job. The case is still pending, and the city has denied the allegations. This incident sheds light on the need for workplace policies that address harassment and protect employees who come forward with complaints.