Lawmakers Propose Quicker, but More Thorough Process for Sexual Harassment Allegations

December 11, 2017 07:28 PM

A bipartisan pair of Minnesota lawmakers released a proposal Monday that would change the sexual harassment policies in the House of Representatives.

The potential changes come after multiple claims of sexual harassment at the capitol and the resignations of Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish, who were both accused of inappropriate communication and contact with women. Rep. Marion O'Neil and Rep. John Lesch said their proposal assures privacy and due process.

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RELATED: EEOC: Workforce Sexual Harassment Training 'Must Change'

"I want women to have a voice and have their power," O'Neil said.

Under the proposal, a complaint would go to the Majority and Minority leaders as soon as an allegation comes forward. The next step would be forwarding the complaint to the House Ethics Committee within seven days. The committee would have to hold a probable cause hearing within 30 days of the filing.

"This workplace has to be a safe place," O'Neill said. "That's our number one goal and the only way to do that is to change the process."

O'Neil and Lesch said the proceedings would all be private until probable cause is determined to assure confidentiality for the accuser and accused. The pair said the thoroughness of the investigation is incredibly important, so false accusations can't become a political weapon in Minnesota.


The proposed changes will go to the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee for approval. Here's your chance to let committee members know your thoughts. You can send an e-mail or video clip to Rep. Joyce Peppin and Rep. Melissa Hortman.


The representatives also said the proposal would give lobbyists and staff an avenue to report sexual harassment without any fear of retaliation.

RELATED: Schoen, Cornish Plan to Resign from Legislature Amid Sexual Harassment Claims

"We need to make sure that it's open to not just members," O'Neill said.

"One of the primary complaints I've heard from lobbyists or activists is that there is no incentive to make a complaint," Lesch said.

The changes would come in the form of a motion on the House floor, rather than a bill, when the session begins February 20th. 

KSTP

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