OLYMPIA—The state House of Representatives took its first vote today, which was aimed at protecting the legislative community from sexual harassment and bullying.
“If we can’t protect our staff here in the House and Senate, then we have no moral authority to legislate how any other employer should protect their workers,” said Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle). “This action lays a new foundation for making sure that the state capital a safe and respectful place for all who work and come here.”
Today, the House voted 98-0 to pass House Concurrent Resolution 4401, establishing the legislature’s Code of Conduct.
The problem of harassment in the Legislature festered for decades until more than 250 women in the legislative community came together to sign a “Stand With Us” letter. Since then, the legislature has taken significant steps to end this culture of harassment, including the creation of the House Workgroup on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (Workgroup). Rep. Macri served as a member of the Workgroup.
From now on, all members of the legislative community—legislators, staff, and people who conduct business with the legislature—are expected to:
- Conduct themselves with self-awareness, self-respect, and professionalism;
- Treat all others with respect, dignity and civility, regardless of status or position;
- Refrain from engaging in hostile, intimidating, offensive, or unlawful activities or behaviors that may amount to discriminations, harassment, sexual harassment, or bullying.
Background: The Workgroup was created in April 2018 and was charged with developing recommendations that include the following:
- Establishment of an independent resource to support victims of harassment, and help respond to, resolve and address relevant issues within the legislative community.
- Education for members of the legislative community about harassing behavior and prevention.
- Cultural changes that lead to the prevention of sexual harassment and the protection of members of the legislative community, including adoption of a code of conduct.
The Workgroup included 29 members, including staff from each House workgroup, four legislators, four lobbyists, and one sexual harassment expert. The first Workgroup meeting was held in April. Through the remainder of the year, the Workgroup members developed recommendations with the intention of fostering a safe and respectful environment for the entire legislative community.