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Mon Feb 25, 2019, 01:45 AM

Harassment suits, allegations of dismissiveness hang over Oregon Capitol

The pall of workplace sexual harassment and disrespect at the Oregon Capitol reached a new intensity this past week, underscored by two new lawsuits, the demotion of two House members and signs that mediation between the Legislature and the state Labor Bureau is nearing a conclusion.

Meanwhile, Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, continued her call for an open conversation on the Senate floor about Capitol culture, and drew a comparison between the recent actions taken by House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, and the hesitancy to act by Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem.

Since allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted touching against former Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, became public in fall 2017, several lawsuits claimed (and two investigations concluded) that legislative leaders failed to protect employees after they knew about hostile work environments in the building.

Failing to act allowed a culture of tolerance toward harassment to fester.

" (Legislative leaders) expressed callous indifference to reports of Kruse’s misconduct, and fostered an environment wherein complaints were discouraged with threats of retaliation, legal exposure, and negative career implications," the most recent lawsuit reads.

Read more: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2019/02/24/harassment-suits-oregon-capitol-leaders-salem-peter-courtney/2952846002/

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