Khan Outlines FTC Support for Employees to Report Harassment Following Allegations Against Wright

Published on Aug 16, 2023

This article has been updated slightly for clarity. 

FTC Chair Lina Khan, in the wake of allegations made against former Commissioner Joshua Wright, outlined steps this week that agency employees can take to report sexual harassment. 

In a memo yesterday to agency staff and her fellow commissioners that The Capitol Forum obtained, Khan said the nature of sexual harassment committed by superiors against those they manage “can often chill reporting” of the misconduct. 

“I want to ensure the FTC is a place where this type of fear never keeps people from coming forward to report harassment or abuse,” she said, providing an email address for people to notify the agency of workplace misconduct. 

The chair also pointed to the agency’s anti-harassment policy, which states that retaliation against any employee who reports sexual misconduct or assists in any internal investigation “will not be tolerated.” 

Two female attorneys accused Wright of spending years pressuring them into having sex. The accusers said Wright started making advances when they were both his students at George Mason University. The allegations were contained in an article published on Monday by Law360. 

In the article, attorneys Elyse Dorsey and Angela Landry said they engaged in sexual relationships with Wright, fearing their careers would be damaged if they resisted, and that after they ended those relationships, he cut off his professional support for them. 

Landry alleged that some of the misconduct occurred when she was then-FTC Commissioner Wright’s attorney adviser in 2015. Wright served as commissioner from 2013 to 2015. 

In a joint statement provided to The Capitol Forum by Dorsey and Landry’s attorney, they said, “We commend Chair Khan for her prompt response to allegations of sexual harassment by a former FTC Commissioner. Her swift action serves as an example of steps institutions can take to protect their employees.  

“Her direct acknowledgement of the power inherent to supervisory roles is much needed and will help to educate and to protect many.”   

Cleveland State University law professor Christa Laser also publicly posted an email she said Wright sent her in 2021 requesting a date after she met with him to discuss a potential faculty position at GMU.  

“More must be done at legal institutions, law schools and in government offices to create a safe and inclusive workspace and learning space,” Laser said in a statement to The Capitol Forum. “As Josh Wright’s conduct makes clear, serial abusers in positions of power are held up in that place by those who refuse to take actions on credible allegations of harassment, coercion, and unwelcoming environments.” 

Wright, who has denied the sexual-misconduct allegations against him, resigned from GMU on August 7. On X, formerly known as Twitter, he said in an August 7 post he was leaving to devote more time his law firm, Lodestar Law and Economics.  

Wright and his counsel couldn’t be reached for comment. An FTC spokesperson declined to comment. Dorsey and Laser didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment. Landry referred questions to her attorney. 

Calling the accusations “deeply disturbing,” Khan acknowledged in her memo “press reports” that said some of the alleged sexual harassment occurred while “a former FTC commissioner” was working at the agency.  

“I and my fellow Commissioners are fully committed to ensuring our agency is a safe workplace for all,” she said.