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Ragan column: Steps taken to stop harassment at the state capitol

The following is a legislative cilim submitted by Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City:

Senator Amanda Ragan

This week, we approved immediate changes to ensure the Iowa Senate provides a safe and healthy work environment that doesn’t tolerate harassment.

Taxpayers want to know that the Iowa Senate will do better when it comes to preventing and handling harassment after they were forced to pay for a $1.75 million settlement to a former Senate Republican staffer who was fired when she reported harassment by Republican Senators and staff, while the perpetrators and those who retaliated against her stayed on the job.

While policies to prevent and address harassment were in place at the time, some legislators and staff chose to ignore them.

Senate colleagues worked on the new policies because we have a legal, moral and business imperative to address the problem in a clear and comprehensive way. All senators and staff are expected to understand and uphold the new policies and procedures, which include:

  • A clear process to file complaints and have them investigated in a fair, impartial and confidential manner.
  • Protection from retaliation or discrimination for victims, witnesses and anyone involved in an investigation.
  • A clear process for punishing senators, employees or anyone else that retaliates against a whistleblower.
  • A clear process for disciplining senators, lobbyists, media employees or vendors who violate anti-harassment policies.
  • Training for senators, staff, lobbyists and media at least every two years on anti-harassment policies and complaint procedures.
  • Training for Senate leaders and staff supervisors at least every two years on receiving complaints, investigating them and taking corrective action.

Read more about the new harassment policies and procedures on the Iowa Senate Democrats website.


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