Phoenix Council Approves Sexual Harassment Policy For Elected Officials

Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 7:00am
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 7:10am

Phoenix’s mayor and council members will soon face similar rules as city employees when it comes to sexual harassment and discrimination. Phoenix voters will also play a role in the city’s first harassment policy aimed at elected officials.

On Tuesday, councilmembers unanimously approved a policy that says Phoenix elected officials, board members and volunteers must not harass or discriminate and must not retaliate against anyone who makes a complaint. Until that vote, the mayor and councilmembers faced no such standards.

“The rights of a victim should not vary on the basis of who a perpetrator is,” said Jodi Liggett, a member of Phoenix’s Women’s Commission, which supports the policy. “That’s really what this comes down to.”

After learning there are harassment and discrimination policies and standards in place for the city’s 14,000 employees, but not elected officials, Councilwoman Kate Gallego requested staff members get to work.

They researched policies and best practices at other large cities, the state legislature and four corporations: Arizona Public Service, Intel, Google and Apple.

“This is a very important issue nationally,” Gallego said. “The public has a lack of confidence generally in institutions’ abilities to root out sexual harassment, but particularly in government.”

The policy, which takes effect in 30 days, includes outside independent investigations, no time limit for filing claims and a supermajority vote of the council to impose censure and fines.

The policy could get tougher. During the next city election, voters will be asked to change the city charter to give the council power to remove a colleague from office for policy violations.

A date for the next election has not yet been set.

If you like this story, Donate Now!