Group: Louisiana should enact uniform anti-harassment policy
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana lawmakers should require all state government agencies to have a policy banning sexual harassment that includes detailed procedures for reporting and investigating complaints and that requires annual anti-harassment training, a study group recommended Thursday.
The task force was convened by Gov. John Bel Edwards to review existing guidelines for dealing with sexual misconduct allegations. It crafted a model policy that it says agencies should adopt.
Edwards’ office said the Democratic governor will push the suggested legislation. The governor’s Division of Administration has enacted the policy suggested.
“No one should have to endure sexual harassment or discrimination while on the job. There should be effective policies in place that enable employees to safely report instances of harassment or discrimination without fear of retaliation, which is exactly what these set of recommendations accomplish,” Edwards said in a statement.
Louisiana currently doesn’t have such a government-wide policy, though civil service leaders say most departments have established their own internal policies against sexual harassment and for handling complaints.
Edwards created the task force after his deputy chief of staff Johnny Anderson resigned in November amid sexual harassment allegations. Louisiana’s legislative auditor also is conducting his own review of state policies.
A review of records found the state has paid at least $2.6 million since 2004 to settle nearly four dozen sexual harassment claims, such as allegations made against college professors, judges, health care workers and one former state lawmaker.
The Edwards study group’s full report initially was due Thursday, but that deadline was pushed back to Sept. 1. The task force is also working on a recommended policy to prohibit discrimination and other forms of harassment, beyond sexual harassment.