Public Hearing Nearly Empty For Discussion on New Sexual Harassment Rules

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DES MOINES, Iowa–Public discussion was barely that during a public hearing Tuesday morning to discuss new rules regarding sexual harassment allegations from state workers. Two people spoke at the meeting. Both had concerns.

The changes follow Governor Kim Reynolds' decision last March to fire Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director David Jamison after employees came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct that included groping, showing pornography and using vulgar language to his employees. 

The Department of Administrative Services (D.A.S.) called for emergency changes to the state employee harassment policies in October in response to the September report detailing the investigation into Jamison.

Daniel Zeno, policy director with the ACLU of Iowa, expressed concern at the public hearing that victims aren't guaranteed a timeline for the state to get investigated. And he said that a governor could have too much power in deciding how the state investigates harassment claims since one of the new changes allows employees to file a complaint with the governor's office or D.A.S., instead of management in their own department. "Having the highest elected official in the state potentially reviewing the complaints is potentially problematic and could have a chilling effect particularly if the complainant happens to have some relationship with whoever governor may happen to be at that time," Zeno said.

Reynolds said that the changes could change again in the future if problems arise.

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