Rep. calls for investigation into allegations of workplace abuse in Speaker Harwell’s office

Rep. Beth Harwell
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A state legislator is calling for an investigation into alleged workplace abuse within the office of House Speaker Beth Harwell.

State Representative Billy Spivey, R-Lewisburg, said he received a report from a concerned staffer at Legislative Plaza describing “mental and emotional abuse over an extended period of time.”

In addition to Harwell, the report also names House Chief Clerk Joe McCord, Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley and Harwell’s chief of staff, Scott Gilmer.

The staffer was allegedly offered a demotion, pay cut and a move to another office as possible solutions after complaining about the alleged verbal abuse by McCord.

Harwell reportedly listened to the staffer’s concerns but never took any disciplinary action, according to the report. Click here to read the full report.

Spivey said a full investigation is required due to the “credible, detailed nature” of the claims and the “egregious nature of the conduct described therein.”

Harwell issued the following statement in response to the allegations:

It is no secret that Representative Spivey is a long-time defender of Jeremy Durham’s and is upset about his expulsion at the special session, which Rep. Spivey failed to attend. Rep. Spivey did not want the Attorney General’s report on Durham released to the public and would not sign off on the report. Just as Durham lashed out last week at those who expelled him, his supporters, including Rep. Spivey, are doing the same this week.It is irresponsible for Rep. Spivey to involve himself in something without verifying the facts and in harassing our employees by releasing an inaccurate compilation of events. It is disrespectful for him to attempt to play political football with our state employees and their jobs, all because he personally disagreed with Jeremy Durham’s expulsion. I take all allegations of harassment seriously. Personnel issues are always handled by Legislative Administration in a professional manner, and they seek to reach a satisfactory conclusion for all parties. Our legislative staff does an outstanding job for every one of our members, and I sincerely appreciate the work they do.”