State lawmakers may hire consultant for ‘review’ of workplace harassment
DENVER — Colorado lawmakers might hire an independent consultant to help deal with workplace harassment at the state capitol.
Vail native and state Sen. Kerry Donovan has lived it.
“The Colorado Capitol seems to have a different culture than I have ever experienced in my professional career before. I get some level of comment (from men) nearly every day I’m in the capitol,” she was quoted in The Denver Post.
She said one male lawmaker called her “eye candy” as she presented a bill in committee.
The quote was part of a blockbuster Denver Post story that chronicled numerous lobbyists, lawmakers and aides who described the capitol’s “permissive” atmosphere, made worse because protection is lacking, at best.
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In classic government fashion, lawmakers are not promising prompt action. Instead, they’re promising more meetings.
The state legislature’s executive committee of the legislative council promised in a press release that it “will meet to discuss moving forward with hiring an independent consultant to review the legislature’s existing procedures regarding workplace harassment and issue recommendations to the legislature.”
Colorado’s legislature is fourth in the nation in terms of the percentage of women — 38 — that make up the General Assembly, according to the Denver-based bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. But that hasn’t prevented the state from being one of 16 in the country facing troubling reports of sexual harassment or assault in the political arena.
The Colorado legislature’s executive committee says its review will look at, but not be limited to:
• A best-practices survey of workplace harassment policies in other states and the private sector.
• Whether an independent body or other neutral third-party organization should be established to handle workplace harassment complaints, and potential models to consider.
• Suitable methods for reporting complaints, including online reporting options.
• How confidentiality should be handled in workplace harassment or sexual harassment complaints.
• Suitable remedies for complaints of workplace harassment.
• Record keeping.
• Protections against retribution.
• Proper safeguards to allow patterns of harassment to be clearly detected and handled appropriately.
• Best practices for awareness and training on what constitutes workplace harassment and the procedure for filing a complaint under the policy.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.