Trump nominee's family company fined for sexual harassment


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — AccuWeather, whose former CEO is President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee the government weather forecasting and ocean science agency, agreed to pay $290,000 after female employees complained of sexual harassment.

The family-run weather company’s conciliation agreement was published in June after an investigation by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and first reported Monday by The Centre Daily Times.

Barry Myers, who stepped down as CEO of AccuWeather in January, was nominated to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in October 2017. His nomination was resubmitted last month.

The federal oversight agency found AccuWeather, based in State College, Pennsylvania, discriminated against female employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. It also found that AccuWeather didn’t exercise reasonable care to prevent harassment. The agreement did not give details.

AccuWeather denies the allegations but said it will make a number of changes as part of the agreement, including training managers on how to prevent and identify harassment. No one is mentioned by name in the agreement.

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A message seeking comment about the settlement was sent to the White House. Representatives for NOAA and the Department of Commerce, which oversees the science agency, declined to comment and referred requests to the White House. A representative from AccuWeather declined to comment on Myers’ behalf since he has left the company and divested himself.

Senior political nominees generally do not make public comments while awaiting congressional confirmation.

AccuWeather will pay dozens of women who worked for the company between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 21, 2017, as part of a settlement.

At least four women had already received payment when the agreement was signed in June by AccuWeather President Joel Myers, the older brother of Barry Myers. At least 35 others have opted into the settlement.

The ocean science agency oversees the National Weather Service, an organization Myers has at times clashed with, and has shown an interest in privatizing.

Democrats and the union that represents weather service employees have criticized a possible Myers confirmation as a conflict of interest.

The revelation of the agreement “certainly raises a lot of questions about the suitability of Mr. Myers to run a very important government agency,” Dan Sobien, national president of the union, said Tuesday. “There were already questions about his suitability. This adds new questions.”

Sobien added the acting director was doing a “fine job.”

The liberal-leaning Center for American Progress has said Myers is unqualified because he is not a scientist and NOAA is a science agency.

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