Legislature refuses to reveal sexual harassment numbers

At least 460 sexual harassment complaints were filed by state government workers from 2010 through 2016, reports The Tennessean. But that figure excludes complaints filed by employees of the state legislature, which refused to provide any information on the complaints as did 44 other departments and agencies.

That poses a problem for legislative leaders who say the actions of (former state Rep. Jeremy) Durham, the lawmaker recently expelled in light of myriad sexual misconduct allegations, are not demonstrative of the state Capitol culture.

“The speaker certainly hopes all state employees feel comfortable reporting any harassment that may occur in the workplace. The General Assembly does not implement Executive and Judicial Branch policies,” said Kara Owen, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Beth Harwell.

Harwell, R-Nashville, retiring Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and many others called Durham a bad apple in an otherwise safe environment.

But because the legislature won’t release the number of complaints it has received, and how those complaints were resolved, there is no way any lawmaker or citizen can understand whether the legislature has a sexual harassment problem.

The Tennessean’s analysis found more than 460 sexual harassment complaints have been filed since 2010. While that encompasses a fraction of the roughly 40,000 people working for state government, it still represents more than one complaint filed every week for more than six years.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG
Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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