Massachusetts House considering overhaul of sexual harassment policies

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP)-State House staff are reluctant to report harassment for fear of retaliation, according to a new report reviewing current sexual harassment policies for the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) is calling for quick action to address the issue “to make sure that the people do not have any fear of harassment or retaliation in any way.”

After consulting lawmakers and State House staff, the House Counsel released a report Thursday that found there was a perception of minimal confidentiality for victims of sexual harassment. The report recommends the House hire an independent officer to confidentially investigate every complaint of harassment.

They also propose mandatory annual sexual harassment training.

The House launched the review in October after a Boston Globe article revealed the accounts of a dozen women who complained they’d been sexually harassed by men with ties to the State House, including lawmakers.

“Part of what we’ve tried to do with this process, and we’re going to keep an eye on whether this works or not is getting the right balance between confidentiality and fairness for people against whom complaints are laid,” said former Attorney General Martha Coakley an attorney with Foley Hoag, LLP working on the report.

Under the proposal, disciplinary measures for perpetrators include verbal or written warning, unpaid leave, and termination.

DeLeo would like to see the rules changed before the House takes up the budget.

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