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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee
Nashville, Tennessee

April 7, 2016

MEMORANDUM
TO:

Honorable Beth Harwell, Speaker of the House of Representatives

FROM:

Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee

SUBJECT: Report of the Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee
I. BACKGROUND INFORMATION1
In January 2016, the Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee was appointed
by Speaker of the House of Representatives Beth Harwell. The five-member
committee included: Allison Duke, Associate Dean, College of Business, Lipscomb
University; Frank Gibson, Public Policy Director, Tennessee Press Association;
Doug Himes, legislative attorney; Dianne Neal, attorney; and Jeff Parrish,
attorney/partner, Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. Connie Ridley, Director of
Legislative Administration for the Tennessee General Assembly, served in an
advisory capacity to the Committee. The Committee held five meetings.2 All
meetings held in Legislative Plaza, Room 29, were streamed live and recorded.
Doug Himes served as facilitator.
The Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee was established to review the
Sexual Harassment Policy of the Tennessee General Assembly and to make
recommendations for revision of the sexual harassment policy for the General
Assembly. At the Committee's February 18th meeting the following mission
statement was adopted:
We, the members of the committee appointed to review the current sexual
harassment policy of the General Assembly, agree to undertake that review
Nothing in this report should be interpreted as suggesting that the current sexual harassment
policy is defective as no finding to this effect has been made. The recommendations included herein
are suggestions to be considered in the policy revision process.
2 February 1, 2016; February 18, 2016; March 3, 2016; March 24, 2016; and, April 7, 2016.
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employing all resources available to us. We understand that we are charged
to determine how best to revise or otherwise amend the current policy,
implemented in 1998. We are further charged to determine whether current
procedures are sufficient to create and maintain an environment where
members of the General Assembly, legislative employees and third parties
are treated with respect without fear of harassment. It is our intention to
take a reasonable time to complete our charge at which point we will submit
a written report to the Speaker of the House, our appointing authority.
Further, it is our intention to conduct open meetings with adequate notice
provided.3
Additionally, issues for discussion were identified. Those issues were language
modernization, training, transparency, and confidence. These issues were further
discussed at the Committee's March 3rd, meeting. In addition, two presentations
were made. First, a presentation was made by the Sexual Assault Center. Mr. Tim
Tohill, President, and Ms. Rachel Freeman, Vice President of Programs, provided
an overview of the services offered by the Center and insights as to the importance
of victim advocacy. Second, a presentation was made by Mr. Marcus Crider and Ms.
Catherine Reidy of the law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. This presentation
focused on policy language, training, and awareness. The Committee is
appreciative of the presenters' time and perspectives. At the conclusion of this
meeting, the Committee agreed to draft a report for discussion at its penultimate
meeting. A draft report was presented and discussed at the Committee's March 24th
meeting. Subsequent to that meeting, revisions were suggested and incorporated
into this document.

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Adopted by unanimous vote of the Committee on February 18, 2016.

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II. RECOMMENDATIONS
The Sexual Harassment Policy Review Committee makes the following
recommendations:
A. Modernization of Language. 4
1. The General Assembly may wish to refine the policy's preamble.5
2. The language of the current policy could be amended for clarity of understanding
and process. "What is a violation?" "To whom should I report?" "How will my
complaint be resolved?" These questions should be addressed clearly and precisely.
The General Assembly may wish to consider that goals in developing a revised
policy are to be sure that all persons who are subject to it are aware of its provisions
and processes and that all complaints are promptly and respectfully handled.
3. In revising the language of the policy, the General Assembly may wish to
continue to ensure that persons wishing to report harassment are encouraged to
come forward by providing necessary confidentiality and prohibiting retaliation.
4. In revising the language of the policy, the General Assembly could consider
consulting with the Tennessee Attorney General & Reporter and/or an employment
law firm. Such consultation could be beneficial to ensure current best practices are
considered and addressed in the policy.
B. Training.
1. The General Assembly may wish to enhance current training for members, staff,
interns, and others working at the General Assembly. A regular training schedule
for both members and staff would be advisable. General training could occur at

The trend in anti-harassment policy is to broaden the scope beyond sexual harassment to include
other types of workplace harassment. Workplace harassment policies include sexual harassment.
The Tennessee Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch have each adopted a "workplace
discrimination and harassment" policy. In revising the General Assembly's Sexual Harassment
Policy, the General Assembly may wish to consider a broader workplace harassment policy.
5 The General Assembly could consider the following:
The General Assembly is committed to creating and maintaining a work environment where all
members, staff, lobbyists, vendors, interns, and guests are treated with respect. To this end, the
Members of the General Assembly do commit to maintaining a workplace free of sexual harassment
of any person. Sexual harassment by a member or an employee of the General Assembly is
prohibited.
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least annually. A combination of both web-based and in-person training could be
considered.6
2. The General Assembly may wish to consider modifying training frequency and
scope for different personnel. For example, supervisory staff may benefit from
additional training focusing on their duties as supervisors under the policy.7
3. Promotion and explanation of the General Assembly's policy could be annually
offered to outside groups such as visitors and lobbyists.
4. The General Assembly may wish to consider contracting with a non-profit or an
employment law firm to provide training opportunities for members and staff.
C. Transparency.
1. In addressing transparency, the General Assembly may wish to continue to
ensure protecting persons reporting harassment and victims' identities to the
greatest extent reasonably possible with the understanding that strict
confidentiality may not be guaranteed.
2. In addressing transparency, the General Assembly may consider adopting a
policy that is comprehensible to all who are subject to it, where each step of the
process is set forth straightforwardly, and where confidentiality is maintained to
the greatest extent reasonably possible.
3. Upon a determination that a violation of the policy has occurred, the General
Assembly could consider having a report issued to the appropriate Speaker(s) or
supervisor(s) without inclusion of the victim's name. Such a report could be
included in the violator's personnel file and could be subject to public disclosure
upon request.
4. The General Assembly could consider providing annual statistical information
concerning the number of complaints and violations without divulging the names
and circumstances of any particular allegations.

Training for members of the General Assembly could be accomplished at the same time or in the
same manner as the annual ethics orientation/current issues course held at the beginning of each
annual session of a General Assembly. Such training could be conducted and/or coordinated through
a dedicated sexual harassment officer as described in II.D.2, infra.
7 Specialized training of supervisory staff could be conducted and/or coordinated through a dedicated
sexual harassment officer as described in II.D.2, infra.
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D. Confidence.
1. In revising the policy, the General Assembly should consider the importance of
trust in the policy. The General Assembly may wish to consider input from
members and staff through focus groups and/or anonymous formats such as a
survey or comment process.
2. The General Assembly may wish to consider appointing a dedicated sexual
harassment officer to handle inquiries, complaints, investigations, and training
coordination. While sexual harassment may not be this employee's sole
responsibility, it should be a primary duty. Such an officer could be appointed from
existing staff or through contract with an outside professional individual.
3. In reporting violations under the policy, the General Assembly may wish to
consider an opposite gender reporting option. Under such a scenario, a person
wishing to report harassment could report to a member of either gender when
making a report/complaint.
4. The General Assembly may wish to clearly delineate the disciplinary measures
that could be imposed upon members and staff found in violation of the policy.
Confidence in the policy and process may be enhanced when all who are subject to
the policy understand its implications.
5. The General Assembly may wish to continue to emphasize that retaliation in any
form will not be tolerated against any person who complains, reports, or testifies
about sexual harassment.
6. The General Assembly may wish to consider how to address frivolous complaints
and whether procedures concerning such complaints should be included within the
policy.
7. The General Assembly could consider an outside, independent advocate or
ombudsperson as an optional contact for members, staff, or any person wishing to
report harassment. This advocate could act as an additional resource for members
and staff in understanding the policy and assist those wishing to file complaints
under the policy.
8. A revised policy could be prominently placed on the web site of the General
Assembly and disseminated to each member and employee. This could promote
increased awareness and, with appropriate training, understanding of the policy.

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III. CONCLUSION
The Committee appreciated the opportunity to serve the House of Representatives
by reviewing the General Assembly's current Sexual Harassment Policy. Nothing
in this report should be interpreted as suggesting that the current sexual
harassment policy is defective as no finding to this effect has been made. The
recommendations included herein are suggestions to be considered in the policy
revision process.
If you have any questions, please contact Doug Himes at (615) 741-9506.

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