A Democratic congresswoman was accused Thursday of retaliating against a staffer who the lawmaker said exposed her to COVID-19 this past summer after working in person while ill.
Sasha Georgiades, a Navy veteran who joined Rep. Katie Porter’s office in 2020 as a Wounded Warrior Fellow, told Reason magazine that she was relegated to working remotely for the last several weeks of her fellowship and never heard from her boss again after Porter lashed out.
“Why did you not follow office protocol on testing?” Porter, 48, allegedly asked Georgiades in a July 9 text message obtained by the news outlet. “It’s really disappointing”.
According to Georgiades, the “office protocol” required taking a COVID test the instant one felt even slightly unwell. She told Reason that she thought she was “just sore from exercise.”
“I’m terribly sorry,” an apologetic Georgiades responded at the time. “You’re right I should have done better. Just because I felt okay in the moment doesn’t mean that I was.”
“Sasha — I cannot allow you back in the office, given your failure to follow office policies,” Porter then told her. “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.”
Porter, who was elected to represent California’s 45th District in 2018 and has been reelected twice since, contracted COVID-19 around the same time — she announced she had tested positive on July 11 — and became enraged, texting Georgiades: “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.”
“She never spoke a word to me after this,” Georgiades, whose fellowship ended in August, told Reason.
In response to Porter’s claim about her children, Georgiades claimed that the single mother was supposed to be in Washington, DC that week, anyway – away from her three kids, who live in California.
“If she thought she was going to go the rest of her life without it, that’s impossible,” Georgiades said of Porter’s reaction.
In a statement, Porter’s office confirmed the authenticity of the messages, saying: “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.
“Congresswoman Porter was informing her that she would work from home for the remaining three weeks of her fellowship.”