D.C. Council Takes Motion Towards Sexual Harassment in Authorities Companies

On the D.C. Council’s final legislative assembly earlier than recess, there have been allusions to joint committee hearings to be held through the recess to evaluate the D.C. authorities’s response to sexual harassment complaints. 

These joint hearings, to be carried out by D.C. Council’s Committee on Govt Administration and Labor and the Committee on Enterprise and Financial Improvement, by no means got here to fruition. 

Nevertheless, as a staffer within the Committee on Govt Administration and Labor defined to The Informer, D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At giant), the chair of that committee, spent the latter a part of the summer time circulating a 12-question survey to administrators, basic counsel, and chiefs of workers at greater than 70 District businesses. 

Bonds additionally met privately with some basic counsel, the staffer added. 

The staffer mentioned that the survey knowledge, which ascertains how every company has responded to sexual harassment allegations since 2017, might be collected earlier than the Committee on Govt Administration and Labor conducts a authorities witness-only public roundtable, tentatively scheduled for October. 

The data collected from the roundtable and surveys will inform laws that Bonds hopes to introduce earlier than the top of the yr, the staffer added. 

“As soon as we began [the issue] and never seeing a set method that businesses might tackle complaints, Council member Bonds thought it might be greatest to get particular info from every company to get context, versus holding a listening to with out background,” mentioned the staffer, who requested anonymity. 

When requested about D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie’s half on this endeavor, the staffer mentioned that Bonds moved ahead to straight have interaction greater degree officers inside District businesses. The staffer, nonetheless, hinted on the Committee on Govt Administration and Labor and the Committee on Enterprise and Financial Improvement, which McDuffie chairs, ultimately collaborating on this matter. 

The Informer unsuccessfully tried to collect remark from McDuffie’s workplace. 

As of now, the laws in query will most certainly embody components of an order that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) issued in 2017 to handle sexual harassment in D.C. authorities businesses, particularly sexual harassment coaching for workers and the installment of sexual harassment officers (SHOs) in every company. 

In regard to SHOs, the committee staffer mentioned that Bonds will seemingly discover the creation of a staff of extremely educated SHOs to be housed throughout the D.C. Workplace of Human Rights.

Proper now, SHOs who're appointed in every company usually volunteer for the place or lack the expertise essential to facilitate an investigation, the staffer mentioned. 

“The SHOs would hear instances that move that first degree of scrutiny,” the staffer mentioned. “When somebody recordsdata a criticism and the company sees that one thing might have occurred, one in every of these specialists can take a look at this case and provides an unbiased look to see if it warrants additional motion.” 

On Monday, Sept. 18, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) mentioned he spoke with Bonds about her course of, which he mentioned aligns with comparable actions the D.C. Workplace of Inspector Basic has taken over the previous couple of months.

In July, the D.C. Council accredited emergency laws requiring the District’s inspector basic to rent unbiased counsel to assessment a report that the Mayor’s Workplace of Authorized Counsel (MOLC) launched in regards to the allegations of sexual harassment introduced in opposition to John Falccichio, the previous deputy mayor for planning and financial growth. 

Earlier this yr, Falccichio resigned from his place in response to the allegations. Within the weeks and months following, the Bowser administration has obtained criticism for what’s been described as the dearth of transparency across the allegations and its investigation. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, the D.C. Council was scheduled to conduct a second studying of the Sexual Harassment Investigation Overview Non permanent Act. The laws picks up the place the aforementioned emergency laws leaves off, extending the time for the unbiased assessment of the Falcicchio investigation. 

D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), who championed each payments, instructed The Informer that an unbiased contractor hasn’t been chosen as of but, as communicated to her by the D.C. inspector basic’s workplace. 

Sexual harassment, and different types of sexual violence, have turn into extra distinguished matters of debate within the “Me Too” period as survivors really feel extra supported in exposing alleged attackers. 

Salim Adofo, an advisory neighborhood commissioner and candidate for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat, has made tackling home violence a part of his marketing campaign platform. He mentioned that D.C. residents should have the institutional help wanted to convey perpetrators of sexual violence to justice. 

In current weeks, Adofo has espoused help for the Sexual Assault Survivors Modification Act, which standardizes the dealing with of rape kits and different bodily proof pertaining to sexual assault instances.

Adofo instructed The Informer that the D.C. Council should apply an analogous degree of care to not solely investigating sexual harassment in D.C. authorities, however talking candidly in regards to the phenomenon in public areas. 

“We’re in a society the place, because it pertains to survivors of assault, they’ve needed to show that it occurred and folk didn’t take them critically,” Adofo mentioned. 

“The ‘Me Too’ motion has empowered sisters, however we have to create a community of help so it’s not a one-time factor. We must always speak about it within the office, our authorities businesses and our faculties.”