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BC447C2E1EF392AF872582F900669EB4 Hearing Summary


Date Aug 30, 2018      
Location HCR 0112

Panel Discussion of Investigations Law Group Recommendations Regarding the Culture, Training, and Transparency - Committee Discussion Only

12:40:54 PM  

The committee came back to order.

Patricia McMahon, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Christine Breen,Truhlar and Truhlar, came to the table. Andrea Johnson, National Women's Law Center, appeared via video conference.

12:52:18 PM  

Ms. Johnson testified about how to change culture and emphasized the importance leadership has on this issue.  Ms. Johnson stressed the importance of accountability and transparency to credibility. She encouraged the committee to make guidelines for what harassment is and what is seen as creditable. Ms. Johnson discussed the possible perception that HR employees are working to protect the institution. She also suggested that a harassment policy be more than just about what is illegal, but also address what is inappropriate behavior.

Ms. Johnson then testified about effective training, but pointed out that training should not be the only tool used to address harassment in the workplace. Ms. Johnson suggested that all employees under the policy be required to participate annually in training and that some training be separated for different groups in the workplace. Ms. Johnson pointed to Maryland legislation that requires lobbyists to attend sexual harassment training.  Ms. Johnson suggested that harassment training not be separate from workplace culture training. She explained that bystanders intervention, who to report to, investigation process, resources available, and consequences should all be included in the training, with examples tailored to the workplace.

Finally, Ms. Johnson reviewed transparency and the importance of reporting data related to complaints. Ms. Johnson stressed that reports must protect confidentially, provide aggregated information related to the number of claims, settlements paid out, or other data as to not identify any individuals.

01:05:26 PM  

Ms. McMahon testified on compliance and reporting. Ms. McMahon discussed the importance of leadership in bringing about change in the workplace. Ms. McMahon recalled past experiences where harassment training did not work because leadership was not supportive.  Ms. McMahon stressed that in order to have effective culture change, the highest level in the organization must support the change.

01:08:44 PM  

Ms. Breen testified on her experience of working with individuals and small business on breaches of Title VII and how to promote a good workplace.  Ms. Breen discussed case law and how the courts have interpreted the phrase "severe and pervasive" as it relates to harassment.  She suggested that the new policy should state that bullying behavior is not tolerated.  Ms. Breen pointed out that the current policy spells out an employee’s rights but fails to acknowledge the right to file with EEO Commission.

Ms. Breen then testified on what makes effective training. Ms. Breen testified that she had trained General Assembly staff and legislators before and heard both positive and negative feedback. Ms. Breen discussed the importance of annual and outside expert training.  Ms. Breen referenced the footnote on page 132 of the ILG report and discussed confidentiality and the Colorado Open Records Act.

Ms. Breen expressed her concerns regarding designating legislators as EEO trainers as suggested on page 135 of the ILG report.  She also suggested that no more than 25 people attend a training at a time, that training should be at least two hours long, and that training should be tailored to address power dynamics in the workplace.



















01:20:39 PM  

In response to questions from the committee, Ms. Johnson discussed best practices related to transparency, including aggregating data related to the number of claims and settlement information.  She discussed the complexities of transparency when a public official is accused of harassment, and referenced how such matters are handled by Congress.

In response to committee questions, the panelists discussed the importance of education, developing a broad policy, inclusion of role playing and bias awareness in training, and reporting of all inappropriate behavior to improve culture.  

01:48:35 PM  

In response to questions from the committee regarding third parties in the workplace, Ms. McMahon replied that, if possible, anyone who deals with General Assembly staff should be part of training.

Ms. Breen replied that third-party organizations must take responsibility for their employees.

Ms. Johnson reviewed policies in other states, including proposed legislation in California regarding lobbyist  and sexual harassment claims.

01:56:21 PM  

The committee asked Mr. FitzSimons how much it cost to hire an outside facilitator. Mr. FitzSimons stated he did not have that information available, but would follow up with the committee.

In response to committee questions regarding whether there was any research showing that good training decreases investigation costs, Ms. Breen testified about HR employees protecting the company, rather than individual employees.

Ms. McMahon discussed how training can be effective.








02:05:05 PM  

Committee discussion with the panelist ensued about training and independent EEO panel.

Ms. Johnson responded that the panel should be as independent as possible. She mentioned that Congress has an Office of Compliance and there has been an effort to increase funding and authority to make it effective and independent.

Ms. Breen responded by highlighting that effective training could include role playing, limiting training sessions to 25 people, providing separate trainings for different categories of people in the workplace, and prohibiting cell phones and computers.

Ms. Johnson discussed providing information about a culture survey during the training.