Significant Changes Made in New House Harassment Policy 1/4/19
1. Changed terminology (Throughout policy)
Ended use of "disruptive behavior." While not an unacceptable term, it encompasses
different types of workplace offenses and can be confusing, as those looking for
guidance on policies regarding harassment, and especially sexual harassment, might be
dissuaded from reading further.
Used terms "harassment" and "sexual harassment" instead, to provide clarity. (See #3)
Changed "Speaker's designee" to "Chief Clerk" to remove confusion or ambiguity as to
who the Speaker's designee is.
2. Strengthened the policy statement (Sec. 27.1)
The goal is now not only to provide protection, but create an environment that is also
civil and promotes public confidence in the institution and its members. The new
statement also clarifies that even if something is not specifically illegal, (for example,
bullying could have the same effect as harassment, but is not based on a protected
class) it could still result in disciplinary action.
Added members of the public as those protected from harassment. (See #10)
3. Provided specific examples of harassment (Sec. 27.2)
Improved the ability to identify harassment in the workplace by providing multiple
4. Provided definition and examples of bullying (Sec. 27.3)
While the House prohibited bullying in the past and included it in staff and member
training, the activity was not specifically mentioned in the policy. The new policy
includes a definition, examples, and specifically identifies bullying as a prohibited
behavior subject to the same reporting, investigation, and resolution procedures as any
other kind of harassment.
5. Clearly delineated sexual harassment as a prohibited behavior (Sec. 27.4)
While sexual harassment is a prohibited behavior along with other types of harassment,
the new policy recognizes sexual harassment as a category that raises unique issues
deserving of its own section. Not only does this emphasize the importance of
recognizing, reporting, and addressing sexual harassment, but it also makes finding
information about it easier.
6. Provided specific examples of sexual harassment (Sec 27.4)
In order to help identify what sexual harassment is, different types of behavior (physical
contact, verbal, non-verbal, quid pro quo propositioning) were identified, and specific
examples of each provided.
7. Clarified reporting requirements and methods of reporting (Sec. 27.6)
Clarified that whether a person is the victim of harassing behavior, or is a witness to
harassing behavior directed at someone else, there is an obligation to report it.
Provided separate instructions for how certain individuals (members, employees, and
public) are to report harassment.
Indicated other options for recourse, including the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment
Council, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, and state or federal court.
8. Provided more information on the investigative process (Sec. 27.7)
In order to make the investigative process more transparent, the new policy specifies
what is involved, including who may be interviewed, who may be consulted, and who is
informed of the investigation's results. Additionally, the new policy requires the
investigation's guidelines and estimated timeframe for completion to be given to the
9. Prohibited retaliation (Sec. 27.9)
Prohibited retaliation against anyone who reports or complains of retaliation in good
faith. This provision also protects any witnesses who are interviewed in the course of an
investigation. Specified that any acts of retaliation or reprisal shall be investigated and
disciplinary action taken if necessary.
10. Stressed confidentiality (Sec. 27.10)
Required all aspects of reporting, investigation and resolution be confidential, and all
individuals involved in any proceeding maintain confidentiality or face possible
11. Established procedures for the public (Sections 27.1(b); 27.4(b)(4); 27.5; 27.6(b)(3))
Previously, there was no mention of whether the harassment policy applied to someone
who was not a member or employee of the House. The new policy establishes that
members of the public are entitled to the same harassment-free environment while
visiting the House, and specifies that a member of the public may report harassment to
any supervisor, the Speaker, or the Chief Clerk.
12. Established procedures for reporting offenses by the Speaker (Sec. 27.11)
The previous policy was silent on what happens if the cause of harassment is the
Speaker. The new policy provides that harassment by the Speaker shall be reported to
the Vice Speaker, who shall perform all the duties that would normally be performed by
the Speaker. It also provides that the Chief Clerk reports directly to the Vice Speaker in
all associated matters.
13. Required annual training for all House members and employees (Sec. 27.12)
The previous policy did not specify required training. Although permanent staff and
members were provided training, it was not required by the policy, nor was a frequency
established. The new policy requires annual training for both House members and