After a former employee published a text exchange in which Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) accused the employee of providing her COVID-19, the congresswoman came under fire.
After being posted on the Dear White Staffers Twitter account, which publishes stories of workplace complaints and promotes a better working environment for Hill staffers, the interaction attracted attention, according to The Washington Examiner.
The congresswoman’s office stated she was a person whose contract was about to expire, despite the account tweeting that the staffer was fired after she and Porter both had the coronavirus.
“I cannot allow you back in the office, given your failure to follow office policies,” Porter wrote in the screenshots of the exchange with staffer Sasha Georgiades.
“Cody will be in touch about having your personal effects shipped or delivered to your home, and will lay out your remote work schedule and responsibilities for your last few weeks.”
After Georgiades apologized, Porter responded, saying “Well you gave me Covid. In 25 months, it took you not following the rules to get me sick. My children have nobody to care for them.”
“This former employee was not fired. She was a fellow in our office, and weeks before she breached COVID protocol in July, we had already mutually agreed on an end date in August 2022,” Porter’s office told the Washington Examiner in a statement.
“Congresswoman Porter was informing her that she would work from home for the remaining three weeks of her fellowship.”
Georgiades claimed in an interview with Reason that the workplace protocol she didn’t follow was testing as soon as she felt unwell.
“At the time I felt okay, just sore as if had worked out too hard,” she told the outlet. “It was hard to differentiate until the next morning and as soon as I felt sick I took a test, told the district director I had it, and stayed home.”
She also mentioned that Porter continued to attend in-person gatherings after she realized she had been exposed to the illness because Porter was slated to be in Washington, D.C., that week and wouldn’t have been with her three kids in California anyhow.
As a result of being aware of her COVID exposure, Porter’s office stated, that “following knowledge of COVID exposure, Congresswoman Porter tested twice daily and only attended in-person gatherings after negative results.”
Georgiades, a former Navy officer, visited Porter’s office as part of a Wounded Warrior fellowship. She revealed to journalist Nicholas Wu that Porter stopped speaking to her after the exchange and that the encounter made her reluctant to pursue a career in politics.
To aid congressional assistants in obtaining better working conditions, Dear White Staffers has encouraged offices to unionize.