WIUM Tristates Public Radio

New Hire Will Hear Sexual Harassment Complaints at the Statehouse

Nov 10, 2017
Originally published on November 9, 2017 9:54 pm

Majority Republicans in the Iowa legislature have posted a job opening for a Human Resources Director, six weeks after a $1.75 million sexual harassment settlement with a former senate staffer.

The job posting seeks a director to "train managers to supervise employees in compliance with state and federal laws and applicable policies and procedures, including anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and procedures."

No one was officially designated in the legislature to receive harassment complaints when former Senate GOP Communications Director Kirsten Anderson complained about overt sexual comments in the workplace in 2013.

A jury awarded Anderson $2.2 million.      The state reached a settlement to pay one million dollars to Anderson with an additional $.75 million for her attorneys.

Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer in a statement said leaders are committed to ensuring a work environment free of discrimination and harassment for all legislative employees.

“A Human Resources Director will improve our current practices and provide employees with a professional to handle any questions or complaints that they may have,” Upmeyer said.  

The hiring appears to be a change of course for Senate Republicans.  

In August, Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix said Senate Republicans would contract with the Iowa Department of Administrative Services for human resource services.  Dix said he contacted DAS on the advice of the attorney general.

Statehouse Democrats issued a joint statement seeking more information about the posting.

“Republican leaders need to explain how this new position will make the Legislature a safe and welcoming environment for all employees, and how Iowa taxpayers will be better protected in the future,” said Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines)  and House Minority Leader Mark Smith (D-Marshalltown).

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