Delaware House introduces new sexual harassment policy
The Delaware House has introduced legislation updating its rules on addressing sexual harassment complaints.The proposal would clearly define how complaints would be made and investigated.
The previous House policy didn’t specifically discuss sexual harassment. House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf said the House decided to review and update the policy after sexual harassment scandals broke out in other states.
Schwartzkopf said under the proposed new policy, victims of sexual harassment or abuse can complain to several appointed people, such as the chiefs of staff of either party, chief clerk of the House or the chief financial officer.
“We created a clear path for someone who believes they’re a victim of sexual harassment to pursue and we have specifically designated multiple people that a victim can report incidents of sexual harassment to,” he said.
Under the proposal, complaints can be made formally or informally. A formal complaint must be in writing and would be investigated by the Ethics Committee. Possible disciplinary action could range from counseling up to dismissal.
Schwartzkopf said legislative leaders want to make it clear that behavior won’t be tolerated.
“We have specifically designated multiple people that a victim can report sexual harassment to and we’re going to make sure all the members of our staff are trained to assist those reporting those who are reporting incidents of sexual harassment,” he said.
Both chambers of the legislature underwent mandatory sexual harassment training this week. Schwartzkopf said the aim to make sure Legislative Hall is a safe and non-hostile work environment. The legislation is scheduled to be heard in committee next week. The Senate is also updating it’s sexual harassment policy.