Mr. FitzSimons continued to explain the proposed reporting process, including the role of the ombudsperson and EEO officer. He next summarized the informal and formal complaint process as outlined in the report, beginning on page 132. Committee members discussed the importance of giving deference to the complainant in terms of pursuing an informal or formal complaint, except in cases of community safety. They also discussed confidentiality in each circumstance and the importance of ensuring that the complainant understands the process.
Mr. FitzSimons presented a flow chart from the ILG report (Attachment K) regarding how to file a complaint.
The committee raised questions about the determination of a complaint. Ms. Taylor responded that the HR administrator should have the expertise to ask initial questions and discern whether to proceed with an investigation.
Mr. FitzSimons continued to review the ILG recommendations regarding the the formal resolution process, beginning on page 132. The committee discussed mandatory participation for elected officials and protections for aides, lobbyists, and the media.
Mr. FitzSimons explained the proposed resolution process for complaints against non-legislators, legislators, and employees and referenced visual flow charts from the ILG report (Attachment L and M). He emphasized that the ILG recommends to manage complaints in a similar fashion, with the exception of an EEO Advisory Panel for complaints involving a legislator.
The committee further discussed how complaints are handled in the private sector and other state agencies. They deliberated about the challenges that may arise in a workplace that includes elected officials.
Ms. Waples presented on Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and its application to workplace harassment investigations. She began her presentation by explaining that CORA addresses the right of the public to have access to public records maintained by state and local governments, but it does not cover how records are created, managed, and retained within an agency. She further explained that CORA does not apply to public records after they have been released. Specific to records of sexual harassment claims, Ms. Waples noted that they are to remain confidential whether or not they are part of a personnel file unless disclosure is required by law, with exceptions. Ms. Waples next addressed the ILG recommendations and CORA and which ones may require statutory changes.
The committee discussed CORA's application to elected officials and personnel files, as well as to annual reports showing complaint and resolution statistics.
Ms. Taylor explained how complaints are handled at DPA. She also talked about striking a balance between meaningful investigations and transparency. In response to a question raised earlier about third-party vendors, Ms. Taylor explained that if a complaint is filed against one, in most cases it is brought to the attention of the vendor. In turn, if a vendor complains about a state employee, the state investigates the complaint. She further discussed the need to have both a policy and a process in place around managing individual conflicts for all types of situations. She also referenced having a code of conduct to set a standard.
The committee stood in recess.