KCRA 3 - 10.17.2017
‘Heartbreaking’: Lawmakers respond to sexual harassment claims in California Capitol [article]
By Mike Luery
SACRAMENTO, Calif (KCRA) —
At the California Capitol, sexual harassment training has been mandatory for lawmakers and staffers since 1992 in the Senate and 1993 in the Assembly.
Yet despite the rules, requirements and protocols put into place, there are still stories of abuse.
In an open letter sent to the Los Angeles Times, 140 women who work at the Capitol, including lawmakers, staffers and lobbyists, outlined numerous incidents of groping, touching and inappropriate comments by men -- highlighting a culture of sexual harassment in the Legislature.
“It is heartbreaking to me first of all,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who served as state Senate president from 2008 to 2014.
Steinberg said he was deeply troubled by the lack of progress in the workplace.
“The abuse and use of power still goes on,” he added. “And that’s what this letter reveals. I know a lot of these people, a lot of these women. And in 2017, it shouldn’t be so. We have a lot of work to do.”
At the Capitol, sexual harassment training includes a series of classes for anyone who works inside the building. The training begins within six months of being hired and again every two years.
KCRA 3 reached out to elected officials in the Senate and Assembly from both parties. All of them are away from the Capitol as the Legislature is out of session, but party leaders did provide statements:
Senate President Kevin de Leon:
”I applaud the courage of women working in and around the Capitol who are coming forward and making their voices heard.
“Our State Senate has led by example with a strong zero-tolerance policy against harassment, discrimination and whistleblower retaliation. We also require mandatory prevention training and a mandatory investigation policy.
“The Senate is reviewing its procedures and policies to ensure that we are doing all we can to promote a safe workplace and culture of respect.”
Republican Senate leader Patricia Bates
“While I have not personally witnessed instances of harassment, it is a shame that it is still occurring in today’s society.
“I strongly support the State Senate’s zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior.”
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
“The Assembly takes our responsibility to prevent any sexual harassment very seriously, both in terms of training and reporting.”
Republican Assembly leader Brian Dahle
“There is no room and no excuse for the mistreatment and abuse of women in any workplace environment.”