Iowa Statehouse Implements New Training as Sexual Harassment Allegations Continue Nationwide

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  From Hollywood to statehouses across the country, more women--and, in some cases, men--are stepping forward to say they were sexually harassed while on the job.

Paige Fiedler, with Fiedler & Timmer P.L.L.C., has been a sexual harassment litigator for 20 years, and says she’s never seen so many people go public with sexual harassment allegations.

“Harvey Wienstien happened and a lot of people came forward and something did get done, and he was pretty much shamed, and I think that gave people a feeling like it might make a difference," Fiedler.

Allegations against Weinstein sparked a nationwide conversation about sexual misconduct in the workplace.

“As far as the people who have come forward and who continue to come forward, I think it can be very cathartic to do that," Fiedler said.

There's even a movement on social media that comes in the form of the hashtag #MeToo. This is one way people like Des Moines resident Eliza D'Anaieri are supporting people who have been sexually harassed.

“I think about a month ago I didn't realize it was gonna be to this extent. I definitely thought that that was a moment where it was a really big deal that there were so many people stepping forward and kind of saying, 'me too, this happens to me,'" D’Anaieri said.

Even before that, an Iowa woman named Kirsten Anderson came forward and sued the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus for sexual harassment. Anderson was awarded $2.2 million and settled for slightly less. As part of the settlement, Senate leaders agreed to implement sexual harassment training for legislators and their staff. The training is expected to be online, which Fiedler says isn't enough.

“Interactive training with an actual person who's answering questions that people have, getting discussions going among employees where you hear somebody else's point of view," Fiedler said is something she believes would be more effective.

Fiedler says her office isn’t seeing an uptick in sexual harassment cases, but says fear of retaliation is a common reason why many people do not speak out.