Multnomah Democrats Pass Resolution Calling for Culture Change in the Oregon Legislature

At the Central Committee Meeting on May 9, 2019, the Multnomah County Democrats passed Resolution 2019-10, Cultural Change in the Oregon Legislature.

Download the full resolution as a PDF

Multnomah County Democratic Central Committee

Resolution: 2019 – 10 Cultural Change in the Oregon Legislature

Whereas, This resolution supports further sustained effort in the Capitol to address the toxic culture cumulative with Resolution 2019-13 Regarding Leadership and Ineffective Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints in the Oregon Legislature, which passed in this Committee last month with overwhelming support; and,

Whereas, Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian filed a complaint on August 1, 2018 naming the Oregon Legislative Assembly and Legislative Administration Committee, as Respondents and Republican Senator Jeff Kruse as the Aider/Abettor. The complaint states that “Respondents have subjected legislators, employees, lobbyists and student interns to a hostile work environment based on sex, including but not limited to unlawful sexual harassment by Jeff Kruse, that Respondents have denied multiple individuals full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of the Capitol based on their sex, and that Jeff Kruse aided and abetted Respondents in these unlawful practices.

Whereas, in response to the BOLI complaint, Oregon’s legislative leaders asked the Oregon Law Commission (OLC) to recommend ways to make the Oregon State Capitol a model workplace where everyone feels safe and can participate freely in the democratic process. The OLC formed the Oregon Law Commission Capitol Workplace Harassment Work Group, whose members included a retired Oregon Supreme Court justice, former legislators and legislative staff, registered lobbyists, employment lawyers, and professionals with extensive experience in preventing and responding to harassment in a professional setting. Their consensus recommendations can be found here.  

Whereas, since January, a Joint Committee on Capitol Culture has met weekly to develop that report’s recommendations into policies and procedures. The Committee is considering the following bills that seek to promote a safe, respectful and inclusive environment and to ensure that the legislative branch takes early steps to eliminate negative behaviors from the workplace:

HB 2859 Creates privilege against disclosure for specified confidential communications and records created or maintained by the Legislative Equity Office principal outreach officer.

HB 3377 Directs the Legislative Assembly to study issues relating to safe and respectful workplace in the State Capitol.

HCR 20 Establishes standards of conduct for the Legislative Branch and other persons present in the State Capitol, along with procedures for addressing violations of standards.

HCR 26 Establishes standards of conduct applicable to the Legislative Branch and lobbyists.

SB 477 Establishes a proceeding whereby a person may obtain a court order to temporarily exclude a legislator or other elected official from the Capitol or other workplace, if the court determines that reasonable cause exists that their physical presence creates a hostile environment for others.

SB 478 Prohibits campaign or public money from being used to make payments in connection with nondisclosure agreements relating to harassment in the workplace.

SB 744 Establishes a Joint Committee on Conduct and Legislative Equity Office that is charged with oversight of the equity office, including selection of principal investigator and principal outreach officer. Sets forth duties of principal officers and delineates which duties must be performed by principal investigator and which duties must be performed by principal outreach officer. Sets forth respectful workplace, harassment avoidance and reporting training requirements, and culture and climate survey requirements. Establishes Capitol Leadership Team to foster mentoring and provision of informal resources of information for promoting respectful workplace and declares an emergency.

Whereas, the Senate Committee on Workforce is considering additional bills to address these issues:

SB 726 Makes it an unlawful practice for an employer to request an employee to enter into an agreement that would prevent the employee from disclosing or discussing conduct that constitutes unlawful discrimination, including sexual assault.

SB 479 Requires public employers to adopt policies to prevent workplace harassment.

Whereas, the Multnomah Democratic Party 2018 Platform in its preamble states that “we, the members of the Multnomah County Democratic Party . . . believe in the strength of diversity and that it is important to treat each other with dignity and respect”;

Be it resolved that the Democratic Party of Multnomah County supports the passage of HB 2859, HB 3377, HCR 20, HCR 26, SB 477, SB 478, SB 744, SB 726, SB 479, as well as any other legislation that addresses the issues stated above.

Be it further resolved that we call on all Oregon legislative leaders and members to enthusiastically encourage, practice, and sustain a genuine commitment to labor practices and working conditions that guarantee dignity on the job, including a harassment-free Capitol.

Adopted on May 9, 2019

Resolution submitted by: Jil Heimensen, PRLC

Send to the following Legislators: Sen. Mark Hass, Sen. Betsy Johnson, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, Sen. Ginny Burdick, Sen. Rob Wagner, Sen. Kathleen Taylor, Sen. Lew Frederick, Sen. Michael Dembrow, Sen. Shemia Fagan, Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, Sen. Chuck Thomsen, Rep. Jennifer Williamson, and the Representatives.

Purpose:

To ensure that legislation is enacted to address sexual harassment in the Oregon legislature.

Contact: 

Faith E Ruffing platform@multdems.org