Wednesday, 29 November 2017 16:22

Edwards's office responds to Louisiana Sen. Hewitt regarding sexual harassment claim

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sharon hewittToday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’s office responded to Senator Sharon Hewitt of St. Bernard who recently wrote a letter to Daryl Purpera, the legislative auditor.

A release from Edwards’s Office said, “Today, Chief of Staff Mark Cooper released the following statement addressing Sen. Sharon Hewitt’s request of the Legislative Auditor:

 “Sexual harassment in state government will not be tolerated. Upon learning of these recent allegations, Gov. Edwards immediately launched an investigation that is currently underway. Previous investigations regarding sexual harassment claims against a former employee did not conclude any wrongdoing. However, this administration takes this matter seriously, which is why the governor acted so quickly. The investigation that is currently underway will review the state’s policies regarding sexual harassment, not just within the executive branch, and we will work with Sen. Hewitt and the entire legislature to promote a safe, positive work environment for all state employees.”

Hewitt’s prior letter said, in part:

Sexual harassment has no place in state government or in the private workplace. All people have the right to work in a safe environment, without unwanted sexual advances or pressure to trade sexual favors in exchange for job security or promotions. The recent national news of men in power using their positions to sexually harass female subordinates has given women around the country the courage to speak out. Similarly, in Louisiana, one or more women have accused a key member of Governor Edwards’ staff of sexual harassment. Surprisingly, this gentleman was previously accused of harassment while employed by the state in a high-profile position in Governor Blanco's office and serving as chairman of Southern's Board of Supervisors. Given these troubling events, I am requesting that your office perform a performance audit to examine our state's policies and procedures involving sexual harassment, in accordance with the authority granted you in RS 24:513.0(4).

The scope of the performance audit should include:

  1. A review of the state's policies and practices relative to examining a job applicant's background, prior to hiring or appointment decisions.
  2. The statistics from the Office of Risk Management and/or Civil Service on the number of sexual harassment claims and the amounts paid out over the last 5 years, including a breakdown by agency.
  3. An evaluation of Louisiana's sexual harassment policies and procedures, with a comparison to other states and any best practices noted.
  4. To the extent possible, an evaluation of the effectiveness of the sexual harassment training mandated in other states and how it compares to similar training in Louisiana.

 

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