Iowa senators Grassley, Ernst call for mandatory sexual harassment prevention training in Senate

Bipartisan group introduces resolution

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are among a bipartisan group that has introduced a resolution that would mandate sexual harassment prevention training for all employees of the U.S. Senate.

“Elected officials should meet the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct,” said Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Last week, he wrote to the Senate Rules Committee asking it to make sexual harassment prevention training mandatory for all Senate employees. Grassley was a sponsor of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 that required Congress to follow the same civil rights, labor, workplace safety and health laws that applied to other government agencies.

Sexual harassment training is important to maintain a respectful, productive and safe workplace environment, Grassley said recently.

“For quite a while now, everyone who works for me has been required to complete this sort of prevention and anti-discrimination training,” he told reporters. He requires members of both his Judiciary staff and his personal staff to take anti-harassment training. The executive branch and some private employers have instituted similar training requirements for their employees.

“A lot of this should go without saying, but obviously it’s something that needs to be addressed,” he said.

Grassley’s letter and the resolution — introduced along with Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark.; and Ernst — follow a cascade of revelations of sexual harassment complaints against businessmen and elected officials.

“As a body of elected officials, we senators have an obligation to set an example,” Grassley said in announcing the resolution. “Establishing a healthy and productive work environment should be no exception to that obligation. We should do everything possible to make sure our colleagues and staffs don’t have to endure harassment if we can prevent it.”

“There is no place for sexual harassment on our college campuses, in our workplace, our gyms, our military — or anywhere else,” Ernst added. “It is critical that Congress has zero tolerance for such inappropriate behavior and action in our society.”

The “Senate Training on Prevention of Sexual Harassment” or “STOP Sexual Harassment” resolution requires all Senate members, staff, interns, fellows and detailees to complete the sexual harassment prevention training offered by the Office of Compliance or the Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. The training must be completed no later than 60 days after starting work in the Senate.

The resolution also calls for an anonymous survey to be administered by the sergeant-at-arms to gather information about instances of sexual harassment or related behavior in the Senate.

“This is not an onerous requirement, and it’s one that’s long overdue,” Grassley said. Training materials on harassment already exist.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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