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Hawai‘i House of Reps Implements New Workplace Harassment Policy

January 7, 2019, 11:30 AM HST
* Updated January 7, 11:36 AM
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A new Hawai‘i House of Representatives Workplace Harassment Policy, including sexual harassment, was reported by House Speaker Scott K. Saiki on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.

The new policy provides greater clarity of terms used to define harassment, expands reporting options, and extends protections to House members, staff and the general public.

An advisory group recently completed an evaluation of the previous House Disruptive Behavior Policy and made recommendations relating to reporting, investigating and eliminating inappropriate harassment behavior.

“This review has strengthened our harassment policy in several ways including enhanced clarity for registering complaints, accountability during the process, and personal protections,” said Saiki. “The new policy has been carefully and thoroughly vetted by the advisory group, House members, and attorneys. The goal is not only to provide protections, but to create an environment that is civil and promotes public confidence in the institution and its members.”

The new policy must be approved by the House during the upcoming session and will be detailed in Chapter 27 in the “House Administrative and Financial Manual.”

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Significant changes to the policy include:

  • Updates to definitions including examples of harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying to clearly identify the behavior.
  • Clarification of the reporting requirements and methods of reporting, the reporting obligation by victims and witnesses, and alternative options for recourse.
  • More information on the investigative process for relevant parties, including the requirement to provide the complainant with an estimated timeline for investigation completion.
  • Prohibition against retaliation and mandatory investigation of any reported reprisals.
  • Inclusion of members of the public in harassment policy protections.
  • Procedures for reporting complaints against the House Speaker.
  • Annual training for all House members and employees.

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