Letter: Legislature dropped ball on harassment

Judging from the news, the Iowa Legislature is in crisis. Unfortunately, that crisis began in 1980 when Iowa’s lawmakers chose not to follow sexual harassment guidelines set out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

While the Legislature ignored EEOC recommendations, it continued to fund the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and approved its administrative rules detailing how the enforcement sexual harassment rules would be addressed. The Legislature funded staffing and training for other branches of Iowa state government to “affirmatively” address sexual harassment in the work place. All this suggest the Iowa Legislature was willing to legislate sexual harassment for the rest of state government, but not itself.

I have had employers tell me they didn’t want to train their staff to file sexual harassment claims against them. My experience is: The better employees know their rights and their legal recourse, the less likely they will feel the need to file sexual harassment claims.

Whatever the reasons were for the Iowa Legislature to ignoring EEOC’s guidelines, it may not have found itself in its current situation if it had addressed the issue of sexual harassment in its workplace when the guidelines first came out.

Joseph Ellis



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