Sexual Harassment Training Made Mandatory in Iowa Senate After Anderson Complaints

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Senator Pam Jochum says when became Senate President in 2013 she was made aware of the complaints Kirsten Anderson had filed, and ordered a full review of the personnel policy that was in place. A revised set of personnel guidelines was adopted in December of 2013.

The biggest change was the implementation of mandatory sexual harassment training for everyone from senators to pages.

The new guidelines outline what constitutes as sexual harassment and makes clear that retaliation for “making harassment reports, threatening to report harassment or participating in a harassment investigation” violates policy.

It also shows that any senate employee who engages in harassment can be “subject to discipline up to and including termination”.

Senators or lobbyists who engage in harassment would be “subject to an ethics complaint”.

If that happens they would face an ethics committee which could determine they be “censured or reprimanded, and recommend the appropriate form of censure or reprimand”.

If the violation is serious enough the committee could “recommend any other appropriate sanction, including suspension or expulsion from membership in the senate, or suspension of lobbying privileges”.

Sexual harassment advocates say having a policy in place is a good first step, but unless supervisors carry it out, it's only worth the paper it's printed on.

“It becomes a matter of them actually following those policies and insuring that sexual harassment is not happening in the workplace; and if it is happening that something happens immediately to protect the employees of the workplace” said Matty Smith of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Senators confirmed today that to their recollection prior to this review of policy there was never a time when sexual harassment training was mandatory.