Banana-Shaped Toy Involved In Departure Of Two Iowa Government Officials

It's one banana, Michael, how much harm could it do? Plenty.

Two high-ranking officials in the Iowa workplace safety agency have resigned or been terminated following an investigation involving their use of a toy banana. The Associated Press reports the investigation began in July when Gov. Kim Reynolds and the state's human resources agency received an anonymous complaint that Occupational Safety And Health workers had "used a toy banana to make sexual jokes."


The complaint alleged two employees, office assistant Dawn Chamberlain and OSHA consultant Ben Brightman, "routinely passed around a child's banana toy made of soft, stretchy material that they pretended was a penis and waved at passing employees." The complaint further stated that supervisor Deborah Babb joined in the behavior and employees were therefore unable to complain about it, and that several of Babb's employees had left due to her intimidation of certain staff.

Chamberlain admitted in the investigation that she had brought the banana toy to the office, but both she and Brightman denied the toy was used in an intimidating sexual manner, stating instead that it was a "stress ball." They maintain the investigation concluded the allegations were unfounded.


Still, agency supervisor Deborah Babb resigned following the investigation's conclusion in October, and the Commissioner Of Labor dismissed her boss, Jens Nissen, the same day.

"I had a hard time defending myself because the allegations were so absurd, so ludicrous," Brightman told the AP.

The AP notes the allegations came during a difficult reelection campaign for Gov. Reynolds, a Republican who was accused by Democrats of not responding properly to sexual misconduct allegations among state government employees.