Former AFGE chief and union sued over abuse allegations

J. David Cox in 2015 

After filing internal union charges in February, one union member and her son have filed to sue the American Federation of Government Employees and its former National President, J. David Cox in D.C. District Court.

Annette Wells claimed Cox sexually abused her son, who acted as his personal driver. She is named as a co-plaintiff in the suit, which was filed June 26.

On Feb. 28, Cox resigned after taking a four month leave of absence when several former and current employees had stepped forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.

The suit names AFGE, Cox, current National President Everett Kelley, eight members of the National Executive Council, and other district and national leaders as defendants. The details of the compliant allege that many current AFGE leaders were responsible for covering up Cox's behavior.

Wells is seeking "compensatory and punitive damages for the losses that AFGE and its members have suffered as a direct result of Defendants' breach of their fiduciary duties" on behalf of the other plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs also asked that the Court appoint an "independent, neutral federal monitor to oversee and implement an anti-discrimination, anti-corruption, education, reconciliation, training, monitoring and enforcement program that will build a culture of respect, safety, inclusion and fiscal accountability" at AFGE.

AFGE National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council President Chris Crane wrote a letter, which FCW saw, to his fellow ICE representatives, Kelley, and other AFGE leadership in support of the plaintiffs.

"The AFGE Constitution allows no effective oversight of the NEC or National President. Members have no practical means of investigating or addressing mismanagement and misconduct," Crane wrote.

"Simply put, what's happening at AFGE is completely unacceptable and must no longer be tolerated."

AFGE told FCW that the organization had not yet been formally served with the suit and could not comment in detail other than to say that they were already internally investigating some of the plaintiffs' allegations.

"As we have explained in the past, let us be clear: the behavior by former president Cox [is] contrary to the mission and values of our great union, is not what we stand for, and behavior like this will not be tolerated by AFGE – from any individual at any level."

About the Author

Lia Russell is a staff writer and associate editor at FCW covering the federal workforce. Before joining FCW, she worked as a freelance labor reporter in San Francisco for outlets such SF Weekly, The American Prospect and The Baffler. Russell graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bard College.

Contact Lia at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @LiaOffLeash.


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