The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, an organization that advocates on behalf of over 4 million Latinx business, is having it’s own #metoo moment.
The NY Times reported that the chamber’s President & CEO, Javier Palomarez, has been accused of sexual harassment by his former chief of staff, Gissel Gazek Nicholas.
According to The Times, “Ms. Nicholas, who was fired last fall, made the accusations in a letter that her lawyer wrote to the chamber’s board and in an interview with The Times. The letter said that Mr. Palomarez sexually assaulted her, created a hostile work environment and wrongfully terminated her from her chief of staff role.”
Recounting the incident, Nicholas asserts via The Times that after a staff meeting in a Chicago hotel suite, Palomarez asked Nicholas to stay behind, then “grabbed my hand gently, and is rubbing the back of my hand, and says that he’s incredibly attracted to me, and wondered what it would be like to be with me. He asked if I had ever thought about being with him. I said, ‘Oh, Jav, we shouldn’t go there,’ On her way out the door, she said he pulled her toward him and tried to kiss her before she broke away.”
According to Buzzfeed and The Times, Palomarez, is also under investigation by the chamber for misappropriating funds, allegedly misusing the “organization’s money for his personal salary and bonuses.”
Before these troublesome allegations, Palomarez had already been a divisive figure at the chamber for his flip-flop relationship with Donald Trump. Over the last three years, Palomarez has both courted and criticized the President, infuriating both chamber members and White House alike, according to a story from Bloomberg.
Upon learning of the harassment allegations, powerful Latinas have begun lending their support to Nicholas, via social:
— Natalia Oberti Noguera (@nakisnakis) February 11, 2018
National focus: we hope that the folks at @SAHispanicCC will do the right thing and refuse to let a known predator speak at their gala tonight. @RAConomics @LuisaCasso @LAndradeGonima @mtr0725 @KarinaCAlderete @RealJeannette https://t.co/08ykhf59vt via @nytimes #timesup @USHCC
— Nathalie Molina Niño (@NathalieMolina) February 11, 2018
The chamber’s board has hired an outside law firm to investigate the allegations, and are meeting to discuss the situation and the future of the organization.